Felon’s voting rights restored in Alachua County
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A felon’s voting rights were restored in Alachua County and he can register to vote in the upcoming election.
Robert Coleman had his voting rights restored after Assistant Public Defender Rachel O’Brien filed a motion pro bono for Coleman to restore his voting rights despite owing money to the Florida court system.
The judge issued an order granting Coleman to register to vote.
Coleman was seeking to have his voting rights restored following a statute that allows a judge to give someone the opportunity to vote even though they have been unable to pay all of their fines and fees that were a part of their judgment sentence.
“Time was definitely of the essence in trying to get the motion heard and ruled upon,” said Stacy Scott, the Eighth Judicial Circuit Public Defender. “We’re very grateful to the court for not only granting the motion but granting it in a timely fashion.”
With the voter registration deadline approaching in a few days, Scott said this is great for Coleman to participate in this year’s election.
“It was disenfranchising him,” Scott said. “This is really important to him that he can come back and be a full citizen and a part of our process.”
Coleman was arrested in 2013 on a drug trafficking charge and sentenced to five years probation and fined more than $108,000.
Coleman has managed to pay back more than $13,000.
“He made a mistake but since then he has done everything right,” Scott said. “He just did not have the ability to pay back the exorbitant mandatory fines in this case.”
Scott believes the motion was the first of its kind.
“I believe this is the first motion of this kind that’s been filed and granted in our area so it’s kind of a case of first impression for our area which is great to have a successful precedent,” Scott said.
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