Crist's predecessor, fellow Republican Jeb Bush, opposed automatic restoration. But Crist has called the failure to restore rights a legacy of the era of "unjust" anti-black Jim Crow laws of the racially segregated south.
Florida has one of the toughest disenfranchisement laws in the country. These laws tend to concentrate themselves in deep south states, where they were promulgated to dilute Black voting strength. See J.F. Barbour, Jr., Note and Comment, 8 Miss. L.J. 196, 202 (1935)
In specifying those crimes which would disqualify a citizen from exercise of the privilege of voting, upon conviction, the compilers of the Mississippi Constitution listed those offenses which the irresponsible and impulsive class of uneducated Negroes are most prone to commit....
Barbour's article was written in the wake of the Scottsboro decision, explaining why the Supreme Court ruling would not threaten Southern efforts to disenfranchise Black voters and keep them off jury service.
Today, felon disenfranchisement laws survive because the last thing these Republican-dominated states want is more poor and Black people voting (they'd likely vote Democratic). It is supremely difficult to convince any politician to stand up for the rights of Black ex-cons (not the most politically popular group), much less one for whom it is not in his political interest.
So, kudos to Governor Crist--for making this an issue, and for not letting it drop after the campaign ended. Via Blackprof.