The Latest: Federal judge harshly criticizes Gov. Scott
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on a legal battle over voting rights restoration in Florida (all times local):
A federal judge is sharply criticizing Gov. Rick Scott and Florida officials after they asked to put a legal battle over voting rights on hold while they appeal the case.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Wednesday turned down a request from Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi asked that the case be stayed while the state appeals an earlier decision by Walker.
Walker blocked the state’s current system of forcing ex-felons to wait at least five years before they can get the right to vote. Walker gave state officials until April 26 to create a new process.
Walker said in his order that instead of complying with the U.S. Constitution that state officials “continue to insist they can do whatever they want.”
The judge said until he gets overturned he expects state officials to comply with the earlier order.
Florida is challenging a judge’s order that it must devise a new way of deciding how and when former prisoners can get their voting rights restored.
Attorney General Pam Bondi on Wednesday filed an appeal on behalf of the state. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last week blocked the state’s current system of forcing ex-felons to wait at least five years before they can get vote.
Walker gave Gov. Rick Scott and state officials until April 26 to create a new process.
Bondi is also asking that Walker’s order be placed on hold while the appeal is under consideration.
Florida’s constitution automatically bars felons from voting after leaving prison. The state’s clemency process allows the governor and three elected Cabinet members to restore voting rights.