Demand #MoreThan4: Restore Felon Voting Rights Without Discrimination in FL

Andrew Gillum and Ron Desantis, Candidates for FL Governor

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Sign this petition to demand an end to discrimination in voter re-enfranchisement.

By now, as a result of the Amendment 4 campaign, most of the country knows that Florida is the worst state for re-enfranchising voters.

But Amendment 4 has a serious flaw that must be acknowledged. Yes, if it passes it would restore voting rights to over a million people, and yet it would also create a nationally-unprecedented level of discrimination against at least 70,000 people convicted of murder and sex offenses. Crimes that have nothing to do with voting.

For this reason, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) has created an Amendment 4 Fact Sheet and is calling on both gubernatorial candidates to commit to an automatic restoration of voting rights for all and immediate dismissal the State's pending appeal on a court ruling in the case Hand v. Scott, which called the current rights restoration process unconstitutional.

[Signatures will be sent periodically to both gubernatorial candidates' campaigns between now and the election, and the winner of the election after Nov 6, 2018. ]

Why is this exclusion a problem?

1. It is contrary to the goals of rehabilitation and re-integration for citizens convicted of a felony and who have been sentenced by a court of law, where they were supposed to have "paid their debt to society."

2. It disregards evidence that has shown the state's criminal justice and prison systems as plagued by corruption, abuse, and racism which manifest in the form of wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, excessive juvenile prosecution and over-sentencing that disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color.

3. Florida would become the only state in the country to specifically limit people's restoration of rights based on the labels associated with their convictions, further developing a culture of exclusion that keeps people in a permanent underclass.

The vast majority of people who have completed their sentences for convictions of "murder" and "sex offense" are law abiding, tax paying citizens. (Note: cases with these charges can be very complex, for example, involving claims of self-defense, entrapment or jury bias.)

Disenfranchisement in FL dates back to the transition from slavery to convict leasing in the 1860s. Despite efforts to address this in recent decades, it has gotten worse under the current Governor, who made the process near impossible in April 2011, in a blatant attempt to limit his opposition at the polls.

There are states in the U.S. and over a dozen entire countries around the world (including our neighbors in Canada) where even current prisoners retain access to the ballot, regardless of criminal charges, treating the vote as a fundamental right rather than a privilege. This should be the goal.

Join HRDC in demanding #MoreThan4 and an end to discrimination in voter re-enfranchisement.

Petition text below

Sponsored by

To: Andrew Gillum and Ron Desantis, Candidates for FL Governor
From: [Your Name]

If you are elected governor of Florida, we ask you to commit to restoring voter rights to all with felony convictions without discrimination. You could have the power to enact an automatic rights restoration process or end disenfranchisement altogether, as happens in other states and countries around the world.

One step in this directions is dismissing the State's pending appeal on the matter in Hand v. Scott. We ask you to do this immediately upon taking office.

Background

By now, as a result of the Amendment 4 campaign, most of the country knows that Florida is the worst state for re-enfranchising voters.

But Amendment 4 has a serious flaw that must be acknowledged. Yes, if it passes it would restore voting rights to over one million people, and yet it would also create a nationally-unprecedented level of discrimination against at least 70,000 people convicted of murder and sex offenses. These crimes generally have nothing to do with voting.

For this reason, I am joining the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) in calling on both gubernatorial candidates to commit to a retraction of the State's pending appeal on a court ruling that held the current rights restoration process unconstitutional, regardless of the election result on Amendment 4.

Why is this exclusion a problem?

1. It is contrary to the goals of rehabilitation and re-integration for citizens convicted of a felony and who have been sentenced by a court of law, where they were supposed to have "paid their debt to society."

2. It disregards evidence that has shown the state's criminal justice and prison systems as plagued by corruption, abuse, and racism which manifest in the form of wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, excessive juvenile prosecution and over-sentencing that disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color.

3. Florida would become the only state in the country to specifically limit people's restoration of rights based on the labels associated with their convictions, further developing a culture of exclusion that keeps people in a permanent underclass.

The majority of people who complete sentences stemming from murder and sex offense charges are law abiding, tax paying citizens.

Disenfranchisement in FL dates back to the transition from slavery to convict leasing in the 1860s. Despite efforts to address this in recent decades, it has gotten worse under the current Governor, who made the process near impossible in April 2011, in a blatant attempt to limit his opposition at the polls.

As John Adams stated in 1770, "It is more important that innocence should be protected than it is that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished.... when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, 'it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.' And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever."

There are states in the U.S. and entire countries around the world where even current prisoners retain access to the ballot, treating the vote as a fundamental right rather than a privilege. This should be the goal.