Florida is one of three states in the country that strips a person convicted of a felony of the right to vote. Civil rights groups have been fighting the policy for more than 10 years.
Voting rights for Florida felons can be restored through a lengthy process but Joyce Hamilton Henry, director of the mid-Florida regional office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said preventing people from exercising their right to vote is an unfair consequence of a crime.
The ACLU has submitted documents to the International Committee on Human Rights urging the group to take a stand on Florida's voting ban. The civil rights organization also urged the state Clemency Board to change the policy when it meets in March.
Hamilton Henry said the number of felons retrieving voting rights dropped from 24,000 in 2009 to just 94 last year. She said the policy unfairly targets those living in poverty and minorities. According to the ACLU, nearly one in three African-American men in Florida cannot vote because of the ban.
"What we're asking of the governor and the members of his Cabinet is to review the situation and change the clemency rules," she said. "Do make it easier for individuals to get their rights restored."
The Voting Ban has been in place for more than 130 years dating to the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War.
- Florida News Connection