Florida voters will have the chance in November to change state law that permanently denies felons the right to vote, but a group of Trump-supporting Republicans — one of the largest political organizations in Palm Beach County — is campaigning against the move, urging its members and supporters to vote ‘no’ on the measure.
> The advice came from the Trump Club 45 PBC (the number stands for the 45th president; the letters for the county), which routinely gets hundreds of supporters to its monthly meetings in West Palm Beach.
> The Broward Republican Party also recommended voting against felon rights restoration in its 2018 midterm voter guide. The Broward Democratic Party, which issued its voter guide on Wednesday, recommended a “yes” vote.
> Proposed Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution on the midterm election ballot would restore the right to vote for felons, except murderers and sex offenders, who have completed their sentences.
Currently, Florida is one of just four states that bans felons from voting, even after they have served their time, though ex-felons can attempt to regain their right to vote through a clemency process.
> The clemency process has gyrated dramatically in recent years. During former Gov. Charlie Crist’s four years in office from 2007 to 2011, more than 150,000 ex-felons had their right to vote restored through an expedited process, theLeague of Women Voters of Florida reports.
> Since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, almost eight years ago, about 3,000 have had their rights restored. A federal judge has ruled that the current system is unconstitutional; a federal appeals court is considering the issue.
Joe Budd, the Trump Club 45 PBC president, told the Sentinel the word “automatic” is a problem:
> “We don’t like the word ‘automatic.’ Just like a felon could have his sentence shortened in front of a parole board, we think the board that’s used right now is the appropriate way to determine if a felon has his rights restored or not,” said Joe Budd, the Trump Club 45 PBC president. “Everyone’s different.”
However, Cynthia Busch, chairwoman of the Broward Democratic Party, noted that these are individuals who have already paid their debts to society:
> “A really important part of going back into society and being successful is participating in the democratic process,” Busch said. “As a country and a society, we need to encourage people to integrate and become fully functioning members of society.”
> Busch said felon disenfranchisement sweeps many people who have gone to prison because of drug convictions. And, she said, that has disproportionately affected people from minority groups.