Florida approves ballot measure restoring felons' voting rights

Florida residents to vote on felon voter rights initiative

It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet. "It was a vote of love", said Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the nonprofit group that organized the drive to put the amendment change on the ballot.

Florida added 1.4 million possible voters to the rolls when it passed Amendment 4, a measure restoring the voting rights of felons who have served their sentences.

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.

The non-tribal Florida gaming market generated $546.6 million in 2017 from the state's commercial pari-mutuel facilities, but saw slowed growth overall of just 0.1 percent. Millions of people were banned from voting for the rest of their lives, and that was an offense to folks who live in the state. Academics studying ex-felon voting report that anywhere between single digits to 35 percent of these eligible voters cast ballots. "In Maryland, I'm proud of everything we've done to open it". Bill Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum are any indication, 1.5 million additional voters could sway the next election. Of those voting, large majorities support Democrats.

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In addition to the ACLU the measure was also supported by several groups on the right, including a group supported by the conservative Koch Brothers, who have spent a considerable amount of money in recent years backing a variety of criminal justice reform measures such as sentencing reform, civil asset forfeiture reform, and other issues dealing with the civil rights of accused and convicted criminals.

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.

"People - whether they're down the right, left, or don't have a political affiliation - can all grasp that idea", Volz explained.

This story has been corrected to show voting rights will be restored when felons have completed their sentence and probation, not when they've completed their sentence or go on probation.

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A spokesman for Republican Governor Rick Scott said at the time that Florida's process for restoring voting rights to felons had been in place for decades and adhered to U.S. Supreme Court precedent. 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.

"What's next is that we continue building this momentum".

The right to vote, serve on a jury or hold public office would remain withheld until the short staffed Office of Executive Clemency got around to completing its review, under the Scott plan. In any case, hopefully, this move will provide impetus to similar efforts across the country, because it's long overdue.

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