TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced Wednesday that a recently returned public records request filed by the organization with the Florida Parole Commission uncovered more than 17,000 Restoration of Civil Rights certificates that were returned to the Parole Commission as "undeliverable."
Basically, these are folks who have paid their debt to society and are getting a clean slate because of it; only the state hasn't located them.
Officials say that means thousands of Florida citizens have the right to vote, but have not been notified by the state.
The certificates are proof of restoration of civil and voting rights for Florida citizens who have completed the terms of their sentences for a felony conviction, and that they are eligible to register and vote in the November Election.
Further review of the state's voter rolls shows that 77 percent of those people hadn't registered to vote yet, and may not even know they have that right again.
ACLU Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said the actions of the state, or the lack of action, spoke volumes.
"The contrast between the baseless claims that Governor Scott has made about voter fraud and the lengths to which he has gone to make voting more difficult, and the inattention to the thousands of voting rights restoration certifications gathering dust in the capitol could not be sharper," he said.
The ACLU is encouraging Florida citizens who applied to have their rights restored but who have not received a response from the state to either call the Florida Parole Commission at 1-800-435-8286 or visit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition website at www.restorerights.org.
These people can also contact the local county Supervisor of Elections office for assistance in checking voter status and determining eligibility.
Officials note that it is too late to register for the primary elections, but those who've had their rights restored and who want to register still have time to do that for the general election.