Florida Approves Ballot Measure Restoring Felons' Voting Rights

Florida Approves Ballot Measure Restoring Felons' Voting Rights

Florida Approves Ballot Measure Restoring Felons' Voting Rights

In a "huge and hard fought victory" that writer and activist Shaun King called "one of the most important of our lifetime", Florida on Tuesday overwhelming approved Amendment 4, which restores voting rights for 1.4 million state residents with past felony convictions who were barred from participating in elections even after completing their sentences.

Approximately 1.4 million convicted felons will have the right to vote due to a ballot that received about 65 percent of the vote on November 6.

Approximately 1.4 million people will be granted the right to vote in Florida elections because of Amendment 4, according to Public Citizen.

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

Florida Democrats feel that restoring voting rights to people who have served sentences for felonies could prove beneficial in future elections, according to the Daily Beast.

With passage of the amendment, Florida joins the ranks of dozens of American cities and states that have been relaxing restrictions on voting for former prisoners in recent years. 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.

With 81 percent reporting on Tuesday evening, the ballot measure surpassed the 60 percent threshold needed, securing support from 64.1 percent of voters.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports the amendment.

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.

Meanwhile, almost 79 percent of voters supported Amendment 12, which would expand lobbying restrictions on lawmakers and other state officials after they leave their positions. Since 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott has only given the vote back to about 2,000 people.

In the following months, groups like Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Second Chances and the Florida Restoration of Rights Coalition would wage an enormous outreach effort, including several statewide television spots. Florida also accounts for a quarter of the disenfranchised population in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project. Felons who lose their rights must wait five years to apply for restoration.

"Western and northeastern states have led the way on legalizing marijuana, but the victory in MI powerfully demonstrates the national reach of this movement", said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who questioned how long the federal government could resist the legalization wave.

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