Put this in the Good News - Bad News column...
By Eddie Griffin
New Florida Rules Return More Than 115,000 Ex-Offenders to Voting Rolls by Damien Cave and Christine Jordan Sexton, The New York Times
The report states: “Gov. Charlie Crist announced on Tuesday that 115,232 Florida felons had regained their voting rights since new rules took effect last April”...
Once somebody has truly paid their debt to society, we should recognize it, and we should honor it and we should welcome them back into society and give them that second chance," Mr. Crist told a crowd of law enforcement officials and advocates for prisoners' rights in Tallahassee...
"That could make an enormous difference in November," he said.
[Read the Rest of the Story]
Eddie Griffin Commentary
In an election year where every vote counts, 115,000 ex-offenders in Florida represent a significant number of new voters. Their impact at the poll can swing the state from red to blue in November.
But what the governor gives with one hand, the state holds back with the other. According to the report, some 80% of the state's disenfranchised ex-offenders remain off the voting rolls in the state.
The ban on voting by felons became part of the state Constitution in 1868, when many Southern states found ways to suppress black votes in the wake of the Civil War. Since only men were allowed to vote, many black men were systematically charged with false charges or Jim Crow offenses, imprisoned, and liberty and rights stripped away.
Restoring the right to vote to ex-offenders is part of a long and endless “Redemption, Restoration, and Reparation Movement”. Although, however, the enfranchisement of a 115,000 ex-offenders may signify a civil rights victory of some great proportion. The greater proposition would be to enfranchise the other 80% and erase one of the last true vestiges of slavery.