Getting Counted

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Richard Laird hasn't voted for nearly eight years, and he says he's served his time both in and out of prison. He was convicted of bookmaking in 1997 and served 10 months behind bars. When his probation was over he was ready to go back to the polls.

"I got off probation. I then filed for my clemency which took another year. I would call, people didn't know what I was talking about when I called Tallahassee."

So for the past couple of years, like so many others in the same predicament, he has tried to get his civil and voting rights restored, but chances of voting in the upcoming presidential election aren't looking very good.

"They are so far behind that I was told in April that probably something would happen in June. I just got a letter that it may be November or December now before I can have my rights back."

In Florida a convicted felon has to request to have their rights reinstated, but the backlog slows the process. Laird says he has paid more than $1 million in fines, served 10 months in prison and is contributing to society.

"Really, I have nothing. I get to come to work everyday. I work 40 hours a week. I pay my taxes and I think it's unfair."

Unfair to Laird and others left waiting, but the deal to swallow for those convicted of felonies in Florida.


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