Update: Guidelines for Returning Citizens to Register to Vote

 

Starting January 8, 2019, Floridians who have completed their sentences for previous felony convictions may register to vote (with the exception of those who committed murder and felony sex offenses).

David Maer from the State Attorney’s Office and Public Defender Carlos Martinez clarified some of the questions we had regarding the implementation of Amendment 4.

  1. The Supervisors of Elections are accepting registrations.
  2. Those with prior convictions must have completed their “sentence” in order to qualify as “restored”. (Please see information below regarding completion of sentencing.)
  3. The State Attorney’s Office will not be prosecuting anyone who mistakenly checks off the “restored” box.
  4. Voter registration applications are sent to the State Division of Elections, where voter registration cards are to be mailed to the new voter.
  5. The burden will be on the State to research and verify if there is any part of the sentence, which has not been completed, but this process will not hold up the ability for a registrant to vote.

Amendment 4 won the support of close to 64 percent of the electorate in November 2018. As a result, citizens who have completed their sentences and qualify for reinstatement can register to vote at any of the three Supervisor of Election offices or online.

If you or someone you know is planning to register to vote, the information presented below may be helpful.

  1. Where can I register to vote in Charlotte County? Voter registration is available at three of the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections locations:

Englewood: West County Annex, 6868 San Casa Drive. 941-681-3717.

Punta Gorda: Historic Courthouse, 226 Taylor Street, 941-833-5400.

Port Charlotte: Charlotte County Administration Building, 18500 Murdock Circle, 941-743-1387.

Individuals may also register via the Florida Online Voter Registration System.

  1. What forms are needed to register to vote? The Florida Voter Registration Form which is available online or at the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections offices is the only form that is necessary. Question #2 of that form asks individuals to “affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored.” Individuals may check this box if all sentencing requirements have been met. You will be asked to sign the Voter Registration Form. Please make a note of or take of picture of your signature because if you choose to vote my mail in the 2020 election, the signature on the registration form MUST match the signature on your mail-in ballot. If you register to vote online your signature on a mail-in ballot must match the signature on your driver’s license.
  2. What does it mean to have all portions of a sentence completed? This includes any period of incarceration, probation, parole, and financial obligations imposed as part of an individual’s sentence.Financial obligations include fines and fees imposed as part of a sentence or a condition of probation under Florida statute as well as restitution.
  3. Do I need to bring proof that I have completed all portions of my sentence? NoThe responsibility of the citizen is to honestly affirm that, by completing the terms of their sentence, the voters’ rights have been restored.
  4. What if I am unsure if all terms of my sentence have been completed? If you are uncertain if all fines and fees have been paid, contact the Clerk of the Court in the County where the sentencing occurred. To verify if all probation requirements have been satisfied, contact your probation office/officer. To ensure all parole requirements have been met, contact the Florida Commission on Offender Review on 850-488-1293.
  5. What assistance is available to me if I am told I am not able to register to vote? The Florida Rights Restoration  Coalition has a hotline that you can call to seek assistance: 1-877-698-6830. You may also call: the Charlotte County Democratic Party at 941-764-8440; or the office of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, 407-901-3749.

 

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