Florida voters line up behind constitutional amendments

07 November, 2018, 10:10 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Election Results Florida Passes Amendment to Restore Voting Rights for Most Felons

In a triumphant victory for voting reform advocates, Florida voters on Tuesday passed a ballot amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million residents with felony convictions.

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.

Those with felony convictions will now have their voting rights restored automatically if they've completed their sentences, including parole and probation. Amendment 4 was one of 13 ballot initiatives that Floridians considered this year, but it has received the most national attention, as it enfranchises the largest population in US history since women's suffrage.

Owing to those restrictions and barriers, only around 10 percent of the 30,000 people who applied under Scott had their voting rights reinstated, according to the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

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.

Of those large numbers, African-Americans largely benefit from the measure due to the fact they numerically make up the most convicted felons in the country. Its stringent, complicated requirements led to a system that left one in five African-Americans disenfranchised, which is why Oliver called out the state so publicly.

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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.

Florida was among a minority of states that required additional waiting time or extra steps for felons to regain their voting rights.

The move also attracted significant star power from singer John Legend and Orange is the New Black author Piper Kerman.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate who has conceded in Florida's gubernatorial race, supported the measure while his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, opposed it. Constitutional amendments need no less than 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 8, 2018.

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