Florida returns vote to 1.5 million ex-felons

Florida returns vote to 1.5 million ex-felons

Florida returns vote to 1.5 million ex-felons

The amendment, which had more than 71 percent of the vote, requires Florida voters to approve any expansion of gambling in Florida.

Floridians approved a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to people with felony convictions once they complete their sentences, a historic move expanding the right to vote to about 1.4 million people and reverses a state policy rooted in the Jim Crow South.

With about three quarters of precincts reporting, the measure passed with 65 percent of the vote, the Associated Press reported; the law needed the votes of 60 percent of the electorate to pass.

This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.

Previously, Florida was one of just four states in the USA that automatically and permanently revoked voting rights from anyone who had been convicted of a felony-level crime.

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

The burden of disenfranchisement also fell most harshly on black voters, according to the Times/Herald analysis.

Of note on the supporting side of the amendment (meaning they want the citizen vote) was the Walt Disney Company - hello tourism competition - and the Seminole Tribe of Florida - hello casino competition - along with other organizations around the state. The new law does not apply to anyone convicted of murder or sex offenses.

The majority of the amendments were put on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, a group that meets every 20 years and has the authority to place measures directly on the ballot.

"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.

On its own, the passage of Amendment 4 is a positive step forward; it restores basic civil rights to over 1 million people, and spares them the indignity of an invasive, complicated hearing process. Since 2011, Scott has restored voting rights to just over 3,000 people. In Maine and Vermont, for example, felons can vote even while still serving out their sentences. The sport remains active in five other states, but may be too small-scale to survive.

The decision over whether or not to allow a convicted felon to vote, and when or if that right is restored, varies widely by state.

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