Thousands of felons are casting their ballot this election for the first time since being incarcerated or charged, but the state isn’t making it easy.
Critics say the state, by requiring convicted felons who want to vote to have paid off their fines, will keep tens of thousands of people from getting in line to cast a ballot. But some who still owe money will vote because there isn’t time to remove them from the rolls.
Of the nearly 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions, only a small percentage were able to register to vote. Just 31,400 people will be able to cast ballots in the general election.
Neil Volz with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is one of them.
“Being able to vote means being able to be a full citizen in your community. It means your voice is heard. It means that you matter,” he said.
The state sent an email to all supervisors of elections in the state, asking them to remove all felons from the voting rolls who have not paid their fines after the Supreme Court upheld Florida’s new law.
“We had a conference call with the Division of Elections several weeks before, notifying us that we would be getting this list since the Supreme Court ruling,” said Tommy Doyle, Lee County supervisor of elections.
Doyle said that won’t matter for this election.
“But that list does not mean that we’re taking anybody off of our rolls; there’s a whole process that we have to go through,” he said.
“Right now it’s too close to the election to proceed with that. It takes about 90 days for them to come off the rolls,” said Trish Robertson, public relations officer for the Collier County supervisor of elections.
So, everyone who is registered to vote in this election will be able to.
“They will not be removed by Nov. 3,” Doyle said.
The supervisors of elections in Lee and Collier counties said if anyone has a question about whether they’re able to vote, to just give them a call and the county can quickly check.