After the passage of Amendment 4 (restoration of felon voting rights) back in November, a number of questions emerged about the implementation of the amendment. Some argued it was self-implementing, although it's hard to see how that's possible based on the vagueness of the language in the amendment. What's ensued has been a debate over the details of what would make one ineligible for the automatic restoration of voting rights. What specific crimes constitute murder and felony sex offenses? What constitutes the completion of a sentence? Who verifies that ex-felons registering to vote have actually completed all the required steps needed for the restoration of their voting rights?
The original Florida House bill on this issue contained some good measures and, in my opinion, overreached on others. Below you'll find my piece on the bill as it was written back then, including what I deemed to be the pros and cons. The main concerns were an overly broad interpretation of felony sex offenses that would preclude someone from the automatic restoration of voting rights, an interpretation that didn't seem to match the spirit and intent of the amendment. The other issue had to do with what I thought was an overly broad definition of fines, fees and court costs that were tied to the completion of ones sentence. This is the part of the bill that led some Democrats and new organizations to question whether or not House Republicans were essentially creating a modern day poll tax.
State Representative James Grant has been at the center of this debate from the beginning. He joined me and NewsRadio WFLA legal correspondent Felix Vega to discuss these issues and what comes next for the bill as it makes its way through the Florida Legislature. You'll find that in-depth interview with Rep. Grant below. During the discussion, misconceptions are cleared up and issues that I previously had with the legislation are addressed.