Florida Votes To Restore Voting Rights To 1.4 Million Former Felons

07 November, 2018, 10:15 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Florida residents to vote on felon voter rights initiative

All U.S. states except for ME and Vermont bar felons from voting while they are incarcerated, but most restore that right when the inmate is released or following a period of parole or probation.

A cross-party, grassroots coalition gathered about 800,000 signatures to get the amendment on the 6 November ballot.

The Initiative seeks to fully restore voting rights to these individuals - except those convicted of murder or sexual assault.

Voters in the USA state of Florida have approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to people in the state who have been convicted of felonies in the past.

"'Kol hakavod' to the Reform Jewish communities in Florida - and across the USA - who organized and mobilized to make this happen", the national Religious Action Center said on Twitter, using the Hebrew term for "well done".

Its passage could reverberate beyond Florida into the 2020 presidential election due to the important role the state often plays in deciding close national elections, with a newly eligible 1.5 million voters coming into play. Supporters say that the Amendment will provide much-needed reform to an overly-punishing system which disproportionately affects African Americans: around 17.9 percent of potential black votes in Florida. In 2016, 21 percent of African-Americans were disenfranchised, according to The Sentencing Project.

Florida was one of four states with a constitution that permanently disenfranchises residents with past felony convictions.

Within a year, more than 100,000 ex-felons were granted voting rights. Whereas most states prohibit people now in prison from voting and some extend this to probation or parole, Florida was one of four states where felon status permanently removed one's voting rights. While more than 150,000 people had their voting rights restored under Gov. Charlie Crist, Scott's predecessor, that number dwindled to just a few thousand under Scott.

Shortly after taking office in 2007, then-Republican Governor Charlie Crist persuaded two of the state's three Cabinet members to approve rules that would allow the parole commission to restore voting rights for nonviolent felons without a hearing. But, one vote has already been decided and needs no recount.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate who has conceded in Florida's gubernatorial race, supported the measure while his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, opposed it.



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