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Florida Sheriffs Association Statement on Voting Rights Restoration- HB 7089/SB 7086

April 08, 2019

Victims’ rights and truth in sentencing matter.  Defendants should be required to pay victim restitution before regaining voting rights and when judges impose a sentence, a defendant should be required to serve that sentence before regaining the privilege to vote. For these reasons and others the Florida Sheriffs Association fully supports HB 7089 by Representative James Grant and SB 7086 by Senator Keith Perry that support the rule of law and ensure victims are made whole by those who stole from them or committed other crimes.  In November 2018, the voters of Florida came to the polls in support of Amendment 4, which restores the voting rights of convicted felons, except those convicted of murder and sexual offenses, once they completed the terms of their sentence.  The advocates of Amendment 4 clearly told the voters that “completion of all terms of sentence” includes any period of incarceration, probation, parole and financial obligations imposed as part of an individual’s sentence. Once these obligations have been paid in full, then those eligible offenders who completed their terms of sentence would have their right to vote restored. Those standards for completion of sentence are clear and fair. Now that they got you to vote for Amendment 4 the advocates are switching their position and claim that Amendment 4 requires restoration of voting rights even with outstanding victim restitution and financial obligations imposed by a judge as part of criminal sentencing.

This is wrong, victims’ rights matter and truth in sentencing matters.  The Florida Sheriffs Association strongly supports the Florida Legislature in passing a law that will require defendants complete all terms of their sentence before regaining one of the most important privileges we all have and that is the right to vote.

Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter, FSA President