Million Floridians Will Have Their Voting Rights Restored as Amendment 4 Passes

Florida residents to vote on felon voter rights initiative

They're banning what? Why Florida's strange ballot initiative is raising eyebrows

"But the backers of Amendment 4 would deny me the right to vote", Paul Wright, who was convicted of murder in 1987 and now leads the Human Rights Defense Center, wrote in an editorial for the Tallahassee Democrat. Prior to the vote, some 1.5 million Floridians, roughly 9.2% of voting-age residents, have completed their sentences without being able to vote.

The 1.4 million people affected make up almost a tenth of Florida's voting age population, implying potentially serious changes for the 2020 elections in this critical swing state. 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.

The amendment had largely been polling above the required 60 percent needed to be added to the state constitution.

In February, a federal judge ruled the state's policy requiring felons to petition the government to have their voting rights restored was unconstitutional because it was lengthy, arbitrary and forced them to "kow-tow" to the whims of state politicians. To put that in context, 13 million Floridians registered to vote for the 2018 midterm elections.

The current system significantly affects African-Americans in the state: More than 20 percent of otherwise eligible African-American adults are unable to vote under this process. According to nonprofit group, Public Citizen, this not only "repeal [s] one of the country's worst Jim Crow laws, it's also the largest expansion in voting rights since the Voting Rights Act".

Both Democratic opponents, incumbent Democratic Sen. The win will permanently alter politics in a state that elected Republican Ron DeSantis as Florida governor by just over 55,000 votes, according to the latest numbers. Donald Trump's presidency was guaranteed after he won Florida by only 112,911 votes.

As black people are disproportionately represented among former felons, one in five black Florida voters are prohibited from voting due to a criminal record.

"When transgender rights are being threatened nationally, we absolutely must preserve the rights we have secured at the state level", said Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of MA.

Currently, felons must wait a minimum of five years after completing their sentences to apply for restoration of their voting rights.

Supporters of the amendment have said the old process of applying for restoration of those rights is prohibitively hard and arbitrary.

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