Counties prepare for voting restoration enactment

Published: Dec. 12, 2018 at 7:05 PM EST
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Some county elections supervisors are preparing to register people who have been convicted of felonies to vote.

Other counties are waiting to take direction from the state.

Voters approved the voting restoration amendment in November which will go into effect January 8.

More than a million people who were not eligible to vote will soon be able to do so.

Alachua County is set to automatically restore those voting rights on January 8 and they are trying to get the word out.

“Our goal here is to make sure everyone in Alachua County who wants to register, who wants to participate, and who wants to have a voice in their community through elections is able to as long as they are eligible,” Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office Director of Outreach TJ Pyche said.

Republican State Senator Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is the new chair of the ethics and elections committee.

“If there’s any delay, it may be just the validation of eligibility to make sure that everybody is using the same instrument,” Baxley said. “The supervisors are waiting here from us. What’s the plan on how we do that? That may be largely done by communicating with different agency heads and we have a new governor so that has to factor into it.

Marion and Bradford counties will also start restoring voting rights on day one but confusion on how this restoration should be implemented is prompting other counties to take a wait-and-see approach.

Suwannee and Dixie are waiting for further guidance from the state.

Baxley said he is getting everything organized now and making sure he sends the same message to each county.

Our Mike Vasilinda asked Baxley what approach convicted felons should take on January 8 in the face of uncertainty and he said: “let them reply.”

Baxley plans to make sure every supervisor of elections office is on the same page by January 8.

"You get down the road another six weeks, we’ll know a lot,” Baxley said.

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office will host a "New Voter Workshop" at 6 p.m. on February 4, 2019.