Commissioner Fried on 11th Circuit Ruling on Former Felons’ Voting Rights

Sep 11, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla. – Following today’s ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet and Clemency Board, offered the following statement:

“Although this ruling is a setback, we cannot allow ourselves to be set back in our pursuit of justice for those who have paid their debt to society. This decision must only renew our fight to ensure all Floridians can exercise their Constitutional right to vote. The goal of Amendment 4 can be achieved through Florida’s clemency system, even in its current, broken state. My fellow Clemency Board members have the power to restore Floridians’ rights. Yet Governor DeSantis has not held a Clemency Board meeting in 282 days, and continues wasting taxpayer dollars fighting Amendment 4 in court. Neither history, nor the 1 million Floridians awaiting justice, will be deterred by today’s ruling.”

Background: Commissioner Fried has been a strong proponent of reforming Florida’s clemency rules, called “crushingly restrictive” and growing harder. She has repeatedly called for the adoption of new clemency rules automatically restoring civil and voting rights, through letters to her Clemency Board colleagues and town hall meetings across the state, and for clearing the backlog of 11,000 clemency applicants for Restoration of Civil Rights. Fried has called multiple times on the Governor to grant Restoration of Civil Rights to the more than 600 applicants eligible without a hearing, and has also suggested a return to clemency rules adopted under former Governor Crist in 2007 which restored civil rights to non-violent ex-felons who served their time, paid restitution to victims, and did not have further pending criminal charges.

Voting Rights Restoration: Under Governor DeSantis, just 24 Floridians have had their voting rights restored; more than 234,000 Floridians were granted back voting rights under DeSantis’ predecessors Governors Crist (155,000), Bush (76,000) and Scott (3,000).