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Atty. Gen. Holder calls for end to felons voting ban

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday called for Florida and other states to repeal laws that revoke voting rights of felons after they are released from prison.

The New York Times reports that Holder, in a speech to a civil rights conference at Georgetown University, claimed that 10 percent of African-American voters in Florida have been permanently stripped of their voting rights in Florida.

"The impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable," Holder said, according to the Times account. Holder was appointed U.S. attorney general by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Florida is one of four states where convicted felons are permanently stripped of their civil rights and must petition the state to have them restored.

Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Cabinet enacted a policy in 2011 that requires felons to wait for five years in most cases after leaving prison before they can petition the state for restoration of their civil rights -- including the right to vote. The Florida Parole Commission has a backlog of thousands of cases, and it can take a petitioner 10 years or more for a case to work through the bureaucracy. 

Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist, and the previous Cabinet had streamlined the restoration process and made it easier for felons to regain their rights.