1.4mn former felons will vote again in Florida

Adjust Comment Print

The newly approved measure made Florida's ballot after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a grassroots membership organization led and ran by formerly convicted persons, collected more than 800,000 signatures needed to qualify the amendment. Those who committed sexual offenses or murder are excluded from having their ability to vote restored.

Floridians voted Tuesday evening to restore the right to vote to some 1.4 million ex-felons in the state.

Approximately 1.5 million people are now barred from voting in the state because of a past felony conviction - a figure representing about 10 percent of Florida's adult population.

Approval of the amendment ends Florida's outlier status as the state with the most people permanently barred from voting - only two other states ban felons from the polls for life.


At least 60 percent of voters had to approve it for Amendment 4 to become law. Many are laws that prevent people now in prison from voting while others are laws that prevent people from voting until they have finished parol or probation. To put that in context, 13 million Floridians registered to vote for the 2018 midterm elections.

"This victory is the culmination of decades of hard work", Simon said. The only way people can get the right to vote back is if the governor decides to grant it to them through a process that takes years.

Many states have conservative policies that disenfranchise voters (often, especially, people of color) but Florida is among the nation's worst offenders.

Currently, there is no process in place for registering felons who have completed their sentence and paid their fines. Voters there upheld a law allowing use of state money to pay for low-income women to have abortions, and also reaffirmed a "sanctuary state" law forbidding law enforcement agencies from using state resources or personnel to arrest people whose only crime is being in the USA illegally.


Supporters of the amendment said the current system was too strict.

Florida's measure on felon voting rights was among those placed on the ballot by citizen initiative. Other states, like Florida before Tuesday, banned them from ever voting once they had a felony conviction, even years after their full sentence had been completed.

"We are on the cusp of history here in Florida", said Delaitre Hollinger, president of the NAACP's Tallahassee branch.

What happens to a person convicted of a felony varies from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Comments