JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville gears up for city elections next month, a new batch of voters will now be allowed to participate: those with felony convictions who had their rights restored after the passage of Amendment 4 last fall.
The election in March is the first in Jacksonville since the new law went into effect Jan. 8.
According to the Supervisor of Elections Office, it's hard to track how many ex-cons might be registering because as long as they say they have met the requirements, they're allowed to submit an application.
At that point, it's up to the state to verify the requirements have actually been met and to reject any voter registrations that don't qualify.
So far, it appears the state has not rejected any applications from local voters, but no one in the SOE Office is keeping count.
“It’s administrative work. It's going back and forth all the time,” Duval County SOE Mike Hogan said. “They may have sent us something that someone was really a felon and signed up and said they weren’t, but that would be handled administratively on a day-to-day basis. But we don’t keep track of those numbers.”
A spokeswoman with the division of elections said the department is following the process outlined in the law to identify anyone who might be ineligible to vote under the scope of Amendment 4. The Elections Division will soon be sending information to the local supervisors of elections around the state on anyone who needs to be removed from the voting rolls, because only an elections supervisor can do that.
“Under Florida law, voters who are identified as potentially ineligible have multiple opportunities to provide information that they are indeed eligible before a Supervisor of Elections removes them,” the spokeswoman explained.
The Legislature is still working through the best way to follow through on Amendment 4, and the process could change.
One of those who completed the process is Bobby Craddock, who said he was convicted of grand theft in 2015 but was able to register to vote after his rights were restored.
“I was very surprised that this was able to happen with all convicted felons that were able to get their rights back because I feel that they should -- just like with jobs (and) giving them chances to be able to work,” Craddock said.