Source: Associated Press
By GARY FINEOUT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — In a ruling that could reverberate in this year’s crucial elections, a federal judge ruled that Florida’s system of restoring voting rights for felons who have served their time is arbitrary and unconstitutional and needs to be changed as soon as possible.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued the blistering ruling Thursday in response to a lawsuit filed last year against Gov. Rick Scott by a voting rights organization. Plaintiffs include people whose requests to restore their right to vote were turned down even though they completed their prison sentences.
Walker, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ordered both sides to offer ways to remedy the system by Feb. 12. His 43-page ruling blasted Scott and state officials for the current system to restore voting rights, which can take years.
“A person convicted of a crime may have long ago exited the prison cell and completed probation,” Walker wrote. “Her voting rights, however, remain locked in a dark crypt. Only the state has the key — but the state has swallowed it.”