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Felon Rights Proposal Could Lead to Higher Costs

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 17:34:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - A proposed ballot initiative that would automatically restore voting rights for non-violent felons could increase costs for state and local governments, though the amount is unclear, according to an analysis by state economists.

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday sent the analysis, known as a financial impact statement, to the Florida Supreme Court as part of a process of justices reviewing the proposed constitutional amendment.

The economists, who meet as the Financial Impact Estimating Conference, said the proposal likely would lead to higher costs related to voter registration, though some costs would be reduced because fewer felons would go through a clemency process to get their civil rights restored.

"Taking all of the increased and reduced costs into consideration, it is probable that the amendment will result in increased costs to state and local governments due to the higher volume of felons registering to vote; however, the specific dollar amount cannot be determined," the analysis said.

"The (Financial Impact Estimating) Conference notes that the increased costs will be higher in the earlier years of implementation due to the amendment's retroactive application."

The proposal, which could go on the 2018 ballot, comes after years of debate about restoring the rights of felons.

A group spearheading the proposal, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, has submitted 71,001 petition signatures, which is enough to spur a Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot language and the financial analysis.