USA mid-terms: Florida restores voting rights to ex-convicts


As the Daily Beast reports, Democratic candidates campaigned hard on Amendment 4, whereas Republican candidates mostly kept quiet about the amendment, despite the fact that it's not a controversial policy.

Before the amendment passed, more than one in every five African Americans in Florida (21%) was unable to vote, according to the Sentencing Project. When Republican Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, he changed the rules of the process and required people to wait five to seven years before they could begin to apply.

Until Wednesday's initiative passed, Florida had some of the strictest laws in the country regarding a criminal's ability to vote; in turn, leaving Florida with one of the highest disenfranchisement rates in the country.

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In a statement, ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon celebrated what he called "one of the largest expansions of the franchise in our nation's history" but warned that the fight was not over.

The voters apparently listened, passing Amendment 4, and re-enfranchising some 1.4 million potential voters.

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Per usual, the key races in Florida are nail biters.

Now, everyone convicted of a felony - except murder and felony sex crimes - who has completed all conditions of their sentence, such as serving prison time, completing parole or paying restitution, will automatically regain the right to vote.

The passage of Amendment Four with support of 64 percent of voters could reverberate beyond Florida into the 2020 presidential election due to the outsize role the battleground state often plays in deciding close national elections.

Unlike the two property tax measures green-lit for the 2018 ballot, however, Amendment 5 will not impact tax and fee collections by county and municipal governments.

Supporters of the amendment said the current system was too strict. One out of every 13 African-Americans in the US has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement laws, compared to one in every 56 non-black voters, the Sentencing Project report said. "If you are a convicted felon, part of what you did is you lost your rights", Governor Scott argued earlier, going on to defend the appeal process which was already in place.

Another gambling amendment Florida voters approved Tuesday was Amendment 3.