The Flaw in Florida's Voting Policy for Felons
In 36 of the states in the U.S. a convicted felon automatically regains his right to vote after completing his sentence, probation, and restitution. In the other 14 states, the felon who wants to vote must apply for clemency through the Governor's office. Florida is one of the states where you must apply for clemency. Thousands of poeple do, in fact, regain their right to vote in Florida.
The problem is, there is a fee, and paperwork to fill out. Some people hire attorneys to do this for them. One attorney here charges $399.00 to file the clemency papers for you.
While this may not seem like a big deal to some people, think about it. It costs the tax payers money for the clemency board to operare. It takes time, energy, and resourcse for the State government to handle all this paperwork. For what? They rarely deny clemency once you apply (although they are very backlogged at this time in processing the many requests). Why not just make it automatic like most other states do? The Republicans are quick to deregulate many other agencies with the stated goal of saving taxpayer's money.
It reminds me of a couple I know who were engaged to be married, and it was important to the groom's parents that they get married in the Catholic church. The bride was legally divorced, but in order to be considered divorced in the Catholic church, they had to go through an official annulment. This involved the bride writing a statement as to the circumstances of her divorce and paying several hundred dollars! It turns out that nobody gets turned down for an annulment as long as they write the letter and pay the fee. Does that make any sense? In the "eyes of God" all it takes is to have enough money? If they already know ahead of time that the annulment will be granted, what is the money for?
I compare this to the clemency requirements in the State of Florida. Why not save everybody's time and money and make it automatic? Do you really think some clemency board is going to take the time to figure out who should be reinstated and who shouldn't? What possible criteria would they use? I'm sure the process is automatic, after you've paid your money.