Thousands of Florida Felons Can Vote – But Don’t Know It

Prior to more stringent rules being adopted by the Florida Cabinet last year, thousands of non-violent felons in Florida  had their right to vote  restored. Between 2007 and March 2011 the rules permitted the automatic restoration of civil rights to many non-violent felons upon their release from incarceration or completion of  sentence. During this period a felon would be mailed a Restoration of Civil Rights Certificate (RCR) which would entitle them to register to vote. Many, however, never received their RCR certificate.  A spokeswoman for the Florida Parole Commission recently stated that the Commission has more than 17,000 returned letters containing RCR certificates which were never delivered because of  incorrect addresses.

  The Florida Parole Commission maintains a website where felons can determine if their civil rights have been restored and obtain an RCR certificate.  According to a report from the Commission, since tighter restrictions were imposed in 2011, the number of felons whose civil rights have been restored fell from 5,719 in 2010 to 52 in 2011.

Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. He has represented clients in election and sunshine law issues, complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983 and has maintained an active trial practice in state and federal courts for over 35 years. Mr. Shults successfully represented the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections et al. v. Browning et al. , where the Florida Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of Sarasota County’s charter election law amendments. Mr. Shults has served on the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar and is the past Chairman of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of The Florida Bar. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association for his work with the Sarasota Mental Health Community Centers. In 2013 he was nominated for circuit court judge by the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee. Mr. Shults has served on the faculty of the Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory University School of Law and on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Program for Practicing Lawyers at Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Mr. Shults grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and is a graduate of St. Petersburg High School (1973), Florida State University (B.S. 1977) and Washburn University School of Law (J.D. cum laude 1982). He is veteran of the United States Army.
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