Florida is being ordered by a federal judge to come up with a new way of deciding how and when former prisoners can get their voting rights restored.
- Federal judge blocks Florida's current felon voting rights restoration system
- Currently ex-felons must wait at least 5 years before asking for clemency
- State has until April 26 to come up with a new process
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Tuesday blocked the state's current system of forcing ex-felons to wait at least five years before they can get their rights restored.
Walker did not specify what rules the state should put in place but instead gave Gov. Rick Scott and state officials until April 26 to come up with a new process.
Walker first ruled back in February that the state's system of restoring voting rights to ex-felons is arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Florida's constitution automatically bars felons from being able to vote after leaving prison. It's one of only a handful of states in the country to do this.
The state's clemency process allows the governor and three elected Cabinet members to restore voting rights.
Gov. Scott's office issued this statement regarding the ruling Tuesday:
“We will review the court’s ruling. Officials elected by Floridians, not judges, have the authority to determine Florida’s clemency process for convicted felons. This is outlined in Florida’s Constitution and has been in place for more than a century and under multiple gubernatorial administrations."
An amendment currently on the November ballot will allow voters to decide whether to amendment the constitution to allow felons who committed non-violent crimes and completed their sentences to get their voting rights back without going through a clemency board.