Felon voting

Ex-felons who have completed all terms of their sentencing, including parole or probation, can register to vote at a Supervisor of Elections Office starting today. 

There are an estimated 1.3-1.5 million ex-felons in the state who will regain their right to vote. 

The League of Women Voters Florida is working with organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help with the registration process. 

Cecile Scoon, first vice president of the league, said they'll be working across the state to get league members oriented to reaching out to people who have completed all their sentences.

She said different leagues have different connections and different capacities for reaching out to potential voters. 

Scoon said if potential voters have any questions or concerns about whether their debt has been fully paid, they should contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court where they were sentenced.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has created a hotline to field any questions that may arise for potential voters. The hotline will be used by the FRRC, ACLU, and the league. They can also call Second Chances Coalition at 1-877-698-6830.

Ron Turner, Supervisor of Elections in Sarasota County, said it will be "almost" business as usual at the office, except he expects there will be some people at the office looking to sign up right away. 

"We'll be open and prepared to register those individuals that choose to register," Turner said. "We're here to serve voters or potential voters of Sarasota County."

Charlotte County Elections Supervisor Paul Stamoulis could not be reached for comment.

The phrase "returning citizens" is attached to ex-felons who are having their rights restored. 

The league is advising new voters to be careful how they sign their signature, in case they decide to vote by mail. They advise people take a photograph of their signature, so they know how they signed in the future.

The league has developed a guideline of suggestions for registering voters. According to the guidelines, the individuals involved are not required to bring proof or anything about their sentence to the Supervisor of Elections when registering to vote. 

Returning citizens will have to check the box on the voting application listed under No. 2 that reads, "I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored." 

The league encourages volunteers to remind returning citizens that they are not required to select a party affiliation, however, if they don't, they will not be able to vote on the person competing to represent the party in the primaries. 

Returning citizens may also register to vote online at registertovoteflorida.gov.

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