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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

ACLU: Jim & Charlie, We Need Specifics



That's the gist of a letter from Florida's ACLU leaders on Friday to gubernatorial candidates Jim Davis and Charlie Crist, both of whom have said they want automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-convicts.

The ACLU wants both candidates to explain exactly what steps they would take to restore rights. The letter also said that unless the two are willing to exercise their executive power to do it through a change in clemency rules -- rather than risk the change to a vote by the Legislature that has been loath to make the clemency process quicker -- their promise rings hollow.

"A change in the Rules of Executive Clemency can be accomplished on the first day of your new administration. It is a change that you can bring to the lives  of hundreds of thousands of Floridians by a vote of you, as the new Governor, and two other members of the Cabinet...

"Anything other than exercising the authority to modify the Rules of Executive Clemency to make the process virtually automatic would call into question the sincerity of your commitment to the restoration of civil rights," the letter said.

UPDATE FROM THE CAMPAIGNS: Davis campaign spokesman Josh Earnest said Davis would propose the change to the Cabinet and referred Buzz to the congressman's responses earlier this year to a candidate survey by Florida Civil Rights Coalition. Davis said he would vote as a Cabinet member to change the clemency rules. In the same survey, Crist did not respond to the question.

The Crist campaign said it was reviewing the letter.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:32am]


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