JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
This is the first presidential election since Florida restored voting rights to people with felony convictions.
It took months of battling in the legislature and courts for ex-felons to be handed ballots.
Now they can only do so after paying their outstanding court costs, fees and fines.
Action News Jax Alicia Tarancon reports that for many people with felony convictions Election Day serves as a second chance.
This year is the first time Mark Krancer has voted since 2008 and since voting rights were restored to ex-convicts in 2018.
Krancer is a former felon who battled a $500 a day drug addiction.
“I eventually ended up with a sale of oxytocin charge... you know I was heavily addicted myself and sold to support my habit,” Krancer said.
It’s what landed him in and out of jail for years, but after doing 16 months in prison Krancer turned his life around.
He’s now a family man and a successful owner of a photography business.
He’s also been clean and sober for more than 8 years.
Krancer wants others to know that convicted felons are people too and some of them just need a second chance.
“I know there’s still a whole lot of work that needs to be done to change people’s perception you know of someone that made a mistake. You know someone who has been able to change their life around,” Krancer said.
Amendment 4 restored rights to ex-convicts, but it does not allow rights to be restored to those who were convicted of murder or sexual assault. Only non-violent offenders.
This year Florida will see 1.4 million people with felony convictions vote for the next president.
According to Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a group that helps returning citizens head to the polls, more than 67,000 convicted felons have registered to vote for the November 3 election.
Action News Jax told you back in 2019, when Krancer registered to vote, and recently he cast his ballot early for the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s a huge blessing to me and to our community to our voices be heard, everyone’s voice I know when I went in to cast my vote it was extremely gratifying and rewarding for me personally,” Kancer said.
While Krancer’s voting rights have been restored, hundreds of thousands of convicted felons who would be eligible to vote, can’t because they have not paid fees or restitution to complete their sentence.