Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Florida restores felons’ voting rights, impacting 1.5 million citizens

Florida restores felons’ voting rights, impacting 1.5 million citizens

Previously, Florida was one of three states-along with Iowa and Kentucky-that barred anyone who has committed a felony from voting. Only once in the past 50 years has the candidate who won Florida not gone to the White House.

In February, a federal judge declared Florida's current procedure for restoring voting rights to felons to be unconstitutional. Since 2011, Scott has restored voting rights to just over 3,000 people.

Or at least for a century and a half.

When almost two-thirds of Florida's voters said yes to Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to 1.4 million felons who completed their sentences, they sent a moral message with political consequences that will reverberate in Florida and nationally for years. That means 1.5 million Floridians with prior felony convictions will be eligible to vote in 2020. Tom Lee was quoted as saying by the Florida League of Cities. "We ran this campaign, I believe, the right way", said Meade, Executive Director for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Most Florida felons who have finished their sentences will be able to vote again in future elections. Legislators also included a more broad voting prohibition against anyone convicted of more minor "Black Code" crimes, like larceny. But only about a quarter of Florida's overall felon population is black.

The law was just one among many the state adopted to keep African Americans away from the polls.

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Those efforts were astoundingly effective. To put that in context, 13 million Floridians registered to vote for the 2018 midterm elections. In 1968, Florida legislators watered down the rule but kept the ban on felons. But that decision was later reversed by the full court sitting en banc. His predecessor, Democrat Charlie Crist, had granted this right to 150,000 felons during his single term in office. "It may be the dumbest thing about Florida, which is saying something", Oliver said.

People who applied for clemency in Florida waited up to 10 years or more for a response, according to the Orlando Sentinel. It was the first-ever statewide vote on this question, occurring as President Donald Trump's administration moves to weaken civil rights protections for transgender Americans.

Passage of Amendment 1 would save one sector of homeowners a relatively few hundred dollars, the opponents say, while choking off the flow of millions into the coffers of local governments across the state.

Consider that gubernatorial contender Andrew Gillum and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson were trailing in the unofficial results in their respective races by 34,000 and 56,000 votes, out of more than 8 million cast. It will only apply to individuals who have served the entirety of their sentence, including prison time, parole, and probation, and will exclude those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

"It's pivotal because I think the culture around voting, especially in communities of color around here is very hostile", Aaron Sykes, community organizer, said.

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