NEW YORK  — PRNewswire-USNewswire – The nation's leading civil rights organizations on Monday called on the Department of Justice to require Florida to submit for review its recent changes to rules governing the restoration of voting rights to persons with felony convictions.

The call came from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), NAACP, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and the Advancement Project.

The Florida Executive Clemency Board recently sought to adopt changes that would require a person convicted of a non-violent felony to wait five years after completing a sentence before he or she may apply for a restoration of voting rights. 

Also, under the proposed new rule, the clock automatically resets if an individual is arrested during this period, even if no charges are ultimately filed.  

Before these changes can take effect, however, the state must comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of voting discrimination, such as Florida, to submit any changes to voting laws to the Department of Justice for review.

“We previously notified Florida of its obligation under the Voting Rights Act to submit the proposed voting changes to the Department of Justice for review. Unfortunately, Florida refused to do so,” said John Payton, president of the Legal Defense and Education Fund and director-counsel on behalf of the groups.

“We are now urging the Department of Justice to require the submission of these proposed voting changes, which would constitute a complete reversal of Florida's previous policy, under which more than 100,000 people regained their voting rights,” Payton said.

“It is our expectation, and certainly the hope of the scores of Floridians of color who are affected by these proposed changes, that the Department of Justice will require Florida to abide by the Voting Rights Act and submit these changes for approval,” Payton said.