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Convicted felons in Indian River County reclaim voting rights


Six convicted felons living in Indian River County filed voter-registration applications with the local Supervisor of Elections office on Jan. 8, the first day Florida’s Voter Restoration Amendment went into effect.

By the end of the first week, that number increased to 28, with applications submitted by mail, online and in person.

“And we’ve got more coming in daily,” said Leslie Swan, the county’s Supervisor of Elections.

Under the amendment, approved by nearly 65 percent of Florida voters during November’s general election, Floridians with felony convictions may have their voting rights restored once they have completed the terms of their sentence, including parole, probation and any restitution ordered by the court.

The amendment does not apply to felons convicted of murder or sex-related offenses. Their rights can be restored only through the governor’s office.

“The people who’ve come in to our office were very happy about having their voting rights restored,” Swan said. “One wanted his picture taken.”

Though the applications are submitted to the local Supervisor of Elections Office, they are sent to the state Division of Elections in Tallahassee to be reviewed, similar to applications filed by any Florida resident.

The process usually takes less the 48 hours.

“My biggest concern is getting the word out that, even with this amendment, these convicted felons are not automatically eligible to vote,” Swan said. “They can’t just show up at the polls and vote. They have to register first.”