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.

  • Florida is appealing a ruling by a federal judge
  • Ruling said felon voting rights process is unconstitutional
  • State has until April 26 to create new process

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, those who complete their sentences, 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.

Gov. Scott's office issued this statement regarding the appeal:

"People elected by Floridians should determine Florida’s clemency rules for convicted criminals, not federal judges. This process has been in place for decades and is outlined in the both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.”

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.

Only a handful of states have a similar process. 

There is also a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November to make it easier for felons who completed their sentences and were convicted of non-violent crimes to get their voting rights restored. That is a separate issue from the case the state is appealing.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.