In Florida, the law used to provide that any person convicted of any felony crime lost his/her right to vote. The only way to restore the right to vote was to go through a difficult and lengthy process involving an investigation, the parole commission and the clemency board with no guarantee of success. This law goes back to the Civil War era and was enacted in response to the 15th Amendment, which gave African-Americans the right to vote.
However, in 2007, the law changed to make it much easier for Florida residents to vote after having been convicted of many felonies. According to the new law, if you have been convicted of a nonviolent felony, have fully completed your sentence and have paid all restitution, if ordered, your right to vote has been restored automatically. You do not have to do anything to restore your right to vote. However, in order to vote, you do have to register, which can be done at the Supervisor of Elections office or the local public library branch. Additionally, you have to register to vote at least 29 days prior to the election in which you intend to vote.
According to one recent report, only 10% of the people who fall into the category of nonviolent convicted felons who have completed their sentences have registered to vote. Whether this is because people do not know of the new law or just have not taken advantage of their restored rights, that percentage is alarmingly low. As important as the right to vote is, everyone in Florida who has been convicted of a nonviolent felony and has completed his/her sentence should become registered and consider voting in future elections.