When it comes to the issue of felon voting rights, which most states automatically restore after non-violent felons have completed their sentences, “Flori-duh” doubles down on its alt-Reich, Jim Crow-era, “Deliverance”-culture reputation. The state has even appealed the federal judge’s ruling–no, embarrassing rebuke–when he said the state must overhaul its sham system for restoring felons’ voting rights and come up with something that doesn’t reek of discrimination, voter suppression and unconscionable arbitrariness and unfairness. The 26-page appeal motion, in effect, a defense of the indefensible, is not exactly Pam Bondi’s finest hour, and that’s saying a lot for this Trump-supporting attorney general marking time before a return to Fox commentating.
This fundamentally is about fairness and compassion for those who need to be reintegrated into society, but it’s also about enlightened self-interest. Recidivism rates are notably lower when such felons can formally re-enter society and feel as if they belong–and actually matter. If they remain societal outliers and pariahs, nobody benefits. And this state’s population of former felons permanently disenfranchised is 1.5 million. No state has more–nor more to lose if this doesn’t change.
Speaking of change, the state’s best hope for formally and expeditiously restoring rights will be this fall when Amendment 4, which would permit the automatic restoration of rights to most felons, will be on the November ballot. If 60 percent of voters approve, it passes–and we’ll be more Florida than “Flori-duh.”