Florida has the highest disenfranchisement rate in the country; the state permanently bars all citizens with felony convictions from voting— an estimated 1,686,000 Floridians—unless they apply individually to the state Office of Executive Clemency for rights restoration. The clemency process is painfully slow. By 2015, nearly five years after taking office, Gov. Scott’s administration had restored voting rights to fewer than 2,000 Floridians. The governor does only 300 hearings per year, which means the wait time just to get through the current application backlog is 38 years.
The nonpartisan “Yes to Second Chances!” campaign, a joint project of the League of Women Voters, the ACLU, the NAACP and others, is circulating a petition to get a Voting Rights Restoration on the ballot in 2018. The proposed Voting Rights Restoration Amendment would allow people who’ve paid their debt to society to earn back their right to vote and modernize Florida’s criminal justice rules by bringing our state in line with others nationwide
They need to collect 700,000 signatures on this petition by December 31st.
Jeanne Heifetz of the League of Women Voters (LWV) reached out to invite Quakers to help. She writes:
“We would love to get as many Florida Friends involved with this project as possible, both by asking members of individual meetings to sign petitions themselves (each “petition” is actually a separate page with the voter’s basic information and signature) and to carry petitions with them and collect signatures each week as they go about their daily rounds. If everyone aims to collect 3-5 a week, that will add up to a significant total in a short time.”
The LWV, as one sponsoring organization, is committed to collecting their share of the total number of signatures needed. They are asking Friends to send the petitions to Cecile Scoon, the VP of the Florida League of Women Voters and the restoration lead for the LWV. Her address is:
Cecile Scoon, Esquire
Peters & Scoon Attorneys at Law
25 East 8th St
Panama City, FL 32401
Of course, petitions can also be sent to the Floridians for A Fair Democracy address indicated on the petition itself.