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VIDEO: John Oliver took Rick Scott to task last night for disenfranchising felons.

Oliver also made a direct appeal to Floridians to vote for Amendment 4: "Go cast a vote on behalf of all your fellow Floridians who are unable to."
John Oliver took on Rick Scott's policy of disenfranchising felons on his Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 show.
John Oliver took on Rick Scott's policy of disenfranchising felons on his Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 show.
Published Sep. 10, 2018
Updated Sep. 10, 2018

John Oliver used his popular HBO program "Last Week Tonight" to take aim at Gov. Rick Scott and his handling of the state's clemency process, calling it  "absolutely insane."

Oliver called Florida the "disenfranchisement capital of America, noting how more than 1 million Floridians – and more than one in five black Floridians – can't vote because they're felons. The state is one of only a few that doesn't automatically grant the right to vote upon completing a sentence.

Scott made the process for felons tougher, changing the clemency process so that they can't automatically get their rights restored after completing their sentences. Instead, they have to appear in Tallahassee to go before the four-member clemency board, who decides whether to restore the right to vote.

Oliver, in a brutal takedown of the process, said, "It's like finishing a triathlon only for Scott to say, 'No, it's a quadathon. Now you have to learn Mandarin.'"

"It doesn't really seem fair," Oliver said.

Oliver also questioned why Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis tends to ask applicants whether they go to church.

"Do you go to church?" Oliver asked. "If the answer to that question is important, that is f—– up. And if it's not, why are you constantly asking it?

"Either you are factoring religious habit into evaluation into whether someone should be able to vote, or you're making a list of people's houses that would easy to rob on a Sunday morning, and neither is a good use of the panel's time."

Oliver ended the segment by donning a Florida Gators cap and appealing to Floridians' willingness to grant people second chances.

"Even this song, your state song, speaks to your ability to screw up and bounce back," he said. "The original lyrics had to be changed because they were too racist.

"And somehow it still sounds racist today, even in instrumental form."

He urged Floridians to vote this fall for Amendment 4, which would restore the right to vote to about 1.4 million people.

Oliver continued: "The point is, this November, Florida, you have got a real chance to remedy a mistake and do something genuinely good for over a million of your citizens.

"So go, please, on Nov. 6 – one day, just one day – don't take your goat for a walk in your underwear. Stay away from any bitey otters, draw a fake beard on yourself and go cast a vote on behalf of all your fellow Floridians who are unable to."


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