John Oliver urges Florida voters to restore felons' voting rights, appealing to the state's dumb-news infamy

John Oliver on felon voting rights in Floridau
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

America is starting the final sprint to the 2018 midterm elections, but "six million people are unable to vote because at some point in their life, they committed a felony," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "If any of you are thinking at this point, 'Well, who gives a s--t if convicted felons can't vote?' you frankly wouldn't be alone." But despite what you might think, and what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says, the vast majority of felons were convicted of nonviolent offenses like property or drug crimes, Oliver said, "and for those who haver served their sentence but are still unable to vote, this situation is understandably frustrating."

"In most states, people with felony convictions automatically regain their voting rights at some point, but there are a few where they do not," Oliver said, "and the worst state of all concerning this — and, arguably, everything else — is Florida." More than 1.5 million Floridians, including more than 20 percent of black residents, can't vote due to past convictions, Oliver said, and Gov. Rick Scott (R) has enacted an "insane," openly arbitrary process for restoring voting rights.

For example, one member of Scott's rights-restoration panel repeatedly asks felons the same very odd question, Oliver noted. "Do you go to church? Now, if the answer to that question is important, that is f---ed up, and if it's not, why are you constantly asking it? Either you're factoring religious habit into evaluation of whether someone should be able to vote, or you're making a list of people's houses that would be easy to rob on a Sunday morning." Floridians can approve a constitutional amendment in November that automatically restores voting rights to most nonviolent felons, Oliver said, and he made a direct appeal to Florida voters that doubled down on Florida's history of making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The video is often NSFW. Watch below. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.