Florida Felons May Get to Vote

Move would likely make Crist a shoe-in for 2010 Senate race

Nearly one million Floridians have been stripped of their right to vote as a result of a felony conviction. Gov. Charlie Crist may re-enfranchise these ex-cons, with an eye toward a possible 2010 Senate race.

''I am committed to ensuring that those who pay their debt to society have the opportunity to regain their right to choose our nation's leaders,'' Crist said in a statement released late Wednesday, in response to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition's recently release report.

If Crist -- who already enjoys a staggering 67-percent approval rating -- were to be the driving force behind restoring the voting rights of 950,000 Florida voters, he could probably bury any contender for retiring Senator Mel Martinez's seat. Martinez won the seat in 2004 by a mere 70,000 votes.

The FRRC reports calls the state's voting ban "one of the most draconian in the country," noting that Florida is home to more than "20 percent of the nation's disfranchised citizens." 

''In a lot of states, people can vote even while incarcerated or on supervision,'' Muslima Lewis, author of the report, told the Miami Herald.

Lewis' report calls for the state to "adopt changes to the Rules of Executive Clemency to create a streamlined, automatic and paperwork-free civil rights restoration" upon completion of a felon's incarceration and/or parole.

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