Florida Voting Case gets Federal Nod

The case concerns felons getting back their voting rights in Florida after they are freed from prison. A panel of three judges of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta consented on April 25 to put a dampener on voting rights for the time being. This came after a federal judge gave Florida officials in March the April 26 date to craft a new process for the restoration of voting rights to all former prisoners. The said Judge opined the present system is arbitrary and unconstitutional.


Florida has then requested the appeals court to bar the decision at a time the appeal was being considered. Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida, had earlier scheduled the needed late night meeting of state's clemency board. This will be needed if the state gets a negative decision from the appeals court. This meeting was quickly canceled after the ruling went to Florida state's favor.

State officials had released a number of new rules prior to the meeting. These rules would keep whole a need that former prisoners must wait a minimum of five years prior to the restoration of all their rights. The new rules also state that former prisoners having stalking injunctions and domestic violence must wait for a minimum of 10 years. The other change is to make the state review all the voting rights applications within a space of four years.

Nick of time

The favorable decision of the court came after much tension. Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, filed a specific emergency motion requesting the federal appeals court. The latter should provide the state some more time to respond to a ruling concentrated on voting rights. Florida had already requested an appeals court in Atlanta to hold this ruling. The higher court, however, did not act on it. The imminent deadline forced Governor Rick Scott to schedule a 9:30 pm the clemency board meeting. The latest motion set by Bondi requested the appeals court to ignore the April 26 requirement. The motion stated that if this was not possible, the Florida state has a minimum of 10 days to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

The clemency board consisted of four people- Governor Scott himself, Pam Bondi, the Attorney General, and two elected Republicans. It was ruled by the federal judge that the present system in Florida of not restoring due voting rights to the former prisoners is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

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