Rep. Darryl Rouson to hold informational fair on restoring ex-felon voting rights

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Rep. Darryl Rouson wants the State of Florida to remove the ban on civil rights for citizens with past felony convictions.  On Saturday, he hosts a “Civil Rights Restoration Fair,” at the Enoch Davis Community Center on 18th Avenue South, beginning at 11 a.m.

Rouson invites residents of District 70, which covers parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, to understand what they can do to work with elected officials so they can their voting rights back.

“Our goal is to provide information so individuals can begin the process and get an answer,”  Rouson said in a statement. “As flawed as our system of justice may be as a result of human beings being in control of procedure, it is still the greatest system of justice in the world.”

According to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the civil rights ban affects more than 1.5 million Floridians, an issue that disproportionately affects minorities, a group that tends to vote Democratic.

Among the groups participating in the informational exhibition is the Florida Parole Commission, Pinellas Clerk of Courts Ken Burke, the Public Defender’s office, Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, and the Pinellas County Urban League.

Rouson says he chose this weekend to coincide with the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a landmark moment for the civil rights movement.

“Some people have been waiting for a long time for a simple answer about their rights,” Rouson added.  “I felt that this week, with a historic 50-year anniversary of the civil rights movement, should serve as a reminder that many people who have served and fully paid their price back to society still do not have certain freedoms reinstated.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.