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Voting rights workshop offered

By NEGAR TEKEEI

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 28, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- A workshop on Nov. 10 will help ex-felons learn how to regain the right to vote.

Florida is one of nine states that do not automatically reinstate voting rights for ex-felons. The process of regaining civil rights in Florida can be long, involved and sometimes expensive.

At a civil rights restoration workshop to be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at Lakewood United Church of Christ, 2601 54th Ave. S, participants will be led through the process of gathering forms and the required paperwork to begin the process.

The workshop is sponsored by state Sen. Lesley "Les" Miller, D-Tampa; state Rep. Frank Peterman Jr., D-St. Petersburg; the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project and the League of Women Voters. It is the second of its kind to be held in the Tampa Bay area, although the African American Voter Research and Education Committee has conducted monthly workshops at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S, for the past two years.

"Once a person has served their time in prison and gone through the probationary process, their rights should be restored," Miller said. "This workshop is to help them get their rights back and become productive citizens."

But Fred Burney, chairman of AAVREC's committee on restoring voting rights, said that even when the forms are completed and sent off, felons may never hear back from the clemency board that reviews the applications. If a mistake or an inconsistency is found, Burney said, the application is discarded without the felon being notified of any results.

"It's a confusing and tight thing that is so easy to leave something out of," Burney said.

The difficulty of the process is precisely why voting rights restoration workshops are held, Miller said. For information about the Nov. 10 workshop, call Miller's office at (813) 727-2831.

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