The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ACLU of Florida Statement on Release of The Sentencing Project's Report on the Impact of Felon Disfranchisement Laws

National research organization updates view of discriminatory laws rooted in racist voter suppression schemes


Washington D.C.-based research organization The Sentencing Project today published a report, 6 Million Lost Voters, on the impact of laws banning people with past felony convictions from voting. Responding to the publication of the report, ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon stated:

"Today's release of the study by The Sentencing Project demonstrates once again that the impact of disfranchisement laws is greatest in Florida.

"Florida's lifetime voting ban, mandated in our state's constitution, is the nation's largest voter suppression scheme, barring approximately 1.6 million people from the polls - almost 10% of the voting-age population in our state.

"Florida's ban is rooted in racist voter suppression schemes of the period immediately following the Civil War. The framers of Florida's post-Civil War 1868 Constitution weren't subtle or vague about their intent: they created the Black Codes and unleashed selective enforcement of laws to ensure that the newly freed slaves would never exercise the right to vote and possess political power.

"These provisions not only remain in effect today, they are disgracefully defended by current political leaders.

"Gov. Scott continues to claim that he made it more difficult for those with a past felony conviction to regain their right to vote because he wants to 'make sure people have turned their life around.'"

"But people who have completed all the terms and conditions of a sentence deserve to have their rights restored. Gov. Scott and his cabinet are using these excuses as cover to maintain a discredited system that manipulates elections in which more than one in five Black Floridians are barred from voting.

"Florida voters may soon have an opportunity to amend the state's constitution to remove this stain of Civil War-era racism and ensure that returning citizens are given every chance to participate in our democracy."

The Sentencing Project's report 6 Million Lost Voters is available at the organization's website:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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