Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has ordered state parole agencies to make more information — including voter-registration forms — available to ex-convicts to enable them to exercise their newly restored civil rights, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The governor said the order would help more ex-convicts benefit from policy changes made last year to speed up the cumbersome rights-restoration process for individuals found guilty of nonviolent felonies. The Sentinel had reported that, though 112,000 ex-convicts have had their rights “automatically” restored in the past year, only about 9,000 — fewer than 8 percent — had registered to vote through July.
Thousands of former felons, including many who had been released from prison years ago, never got notices their rights had been restored because the state sent them to the wrong addresses. Crist’s office declined a request by civil-rights groups to include a voter-registration application when the state mails out rights-restoration certificates to a backlogged list of about 60,000 felons. Roughly 3,500 convicts are released from prison each month.