Statement of Juan Cartagena President & General Counsel On the Florida Supreme Court Hearing On the Review of a State Constitutional Referendum To Restore Voting Rights to People with Past Felony Convictions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2017

Contact: Christiaan Perez, Manager of advocacy and Digital Strategy, 212-739-7581, cperez@latinojustice.org

This morning the Florida Supreme Court held oral arguments on a request by the Florida Attorney General for an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court on a proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to hundreds of thousands of Floridians with prior felony convictions upon completion of the terms of their sentences. The referendum to amend Florida’s constitution and reverse felon disfranchisement in that State (with exceptions for convictions for murder or sexual offenses) is a major step in aligning Florida with many other states in the country who restore voting rights upon completion of criminal sentences.

“This is a critical first step in restoring the promise of democracy for Floridians of all races whose only mistake is a felony conviction. The badge of citizenship is voting and that right should be restored to all persons once they have completed their sentences. Felon disfranchisement in Florida has clear, disproportionate effects on African-American and Latino citizens of the country and this is an additional reason to champion this process and create a constitutional referendum. LatinoJustice PRLDEF stands in coalition with our partners in Florida to ensure a robust and inclusive electorate and remove what is in effect, a lifetime ban from voting for so many of Florida’s citizens,” said Juan Cartagena.

“We are hopeful that the Florida Supreme Court will approve this clear and necessary language and allow this effort to get on the ballot in 2018,” he noted.

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