White Supremacy on the rise with Ron DeSantis — No Delay in Rights Restoration

Robin Harris, Co-Chair, Green Party of Florida.

With the seat of Governor Rick Scott still reeking of his stench, Governor-elect Ron DeSantis is making ready to add his own white supremacist aroma.  Since the passage of Amendment 4 — the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative — with more than 64% of the vote, DeSantis has been beating the drums for the Florida State Legislature to delay it taking effect on January 8, 2019 by adding “implementation language.”  Florida Republicans are conniving to find ways to gut its impact for the over 1.5 million ex-felons (10% of Florida’s adult population, and 21% of potential Black voters) who on that date will be eligible to register to vote.

Claims Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, “We need to get some direction from them as far as implementation and definitions — all the kind of things that the supervisors were asking,” Detzner said, after meeting with the elections supervisors this week.  “It would be inappropriate for us to charge off without direction from them.”

The Legislature does not even convene until March 5.  Then DeSantis might sign off on it.  Or not.  This is nothing more than white supremacy, part of the Sunshine State’s legacy of Jim Crow and repeated voter suppression.

The Law is quite clear.

Under Article VI, Section 4. Disqualifications (a), the following language was added:

“any disqualification from voting arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation. … No person convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil rights.

With that in mind, a colleague from the Pinellas County Green Party paid a friendly visit to the Office of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office in St. Petersburg.  He inquired as to what was happening with Detzner’s or DeSantis’ comments.  He was told that there had been no specific direction from the state, and that registration for felons would commence as scheduled for January 8, 2019.

Nor would Amendment 4 require even the slightest change in the Voter Registration forms.  The relevant checkbox already reads:

“I affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored.”

No “implementing legislation” is required.

Zero tolerance for Jim Crow in any form!

DeSantis only continues the bullying and overreach of Rick Scott.  When Aramis Ayala — the first Black woman state attorney in Florida — refused to seek the death penalty in the  Markeith Lloyd case, she was replaced by a white prosecutor willing to sing Scott’s tune.  In a remarkable act of over-reach, Scott continued to  harass her by taking cases and funding from her.  The message sent to Florida then was that we had to accept being taunted and submit to abuse of power by white men in politics.

Now, rather than conspiring to disenfranchise by delay, Ron DeSantis should be amplifying the people’s voice.  The people spoke out loud and strong on behalf of Amendment 4, which could revolutionize and overhaul this state’s flawed electoral system.  So the Green Party of Florida stands on the side of marginalized communities that have been so greatly harmed by voter suppression and Jim Crow laws.

Robin Harris
Co-Chair, Green Party of Florida
December 23, 2018

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