Monday, October 13, 2008

30,000 Felons Illegally Registered to Vote in Florida

More than 30,000 Florida felons who by law should have been stripped of their right to vote remain registered to cast ballots in this presidential battleground state, a Sun Sentinel investigation has found.

Many are faithful voters, with at least 4,900 turning out in past elections.

Another 5,600 are not likely to vote Nov. 4 — they're still in prison.

Of the felons who registered with a party, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

Florida's elections chief, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, acknowledged his staff has failed to remove thousands of ineligible felons because of a shortage of workers and a crush of new registrations in this critical swing state.

Browning said he was not surprised by the newspaper's findings. "I'm kind of shocked that the number is as low as it is," he said.

Asked how many ineligible felons may be on Florida's rolls, Browning said, "We don't know."

The Division of Elections has a backlog of more than 108,000 possible felons who have registered to vote since January 2006 that it hasn't had the time or staff to verify. Browning estimated that about 10 percent, once checked, would be ineligible.

"This is part of a big mess," said Jeff Manza, professor of sociology at New York University and author of a book on felon voting. "It's almost certain there will be challenges if the election is close enough that things hinge on this. Both parties are armed to the teeth with legal talent in all the battleground states."

Florida's felon ban originated before the Civil War, and today the state remains one of 10 that restrict some felons from voting even after they've served their time. The law requires state and county elections officials to remove felons from voter rolls after conviction and add them only when they've won clemency to restore their voting rights.
The Official News Source

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