Restoring Felons' Voting Rights Probably Won't Turn Florida Blue

Restoring Felons' Voting Rights Probably Won't Turn Florida Blue

Florida voters approved Amendment 4 on Tuesday night in the 2018 midterm elections, restoring voting rights to more than 1 million people in the state who were previously convicted of felonies.

Given this information, Meredith and Morse say there's no reason to believe Hillary Clinton would have won Florida in the 2016 presidential election if the state's felons had been allowed to vote.

When almost two-thirds of Florida's voters said yes to Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to 1.4 million felons who completed their sentences, they sent a moral message with political consequences that will reverberate in Florida and nationally for years. Amendment 4 will not apply to people who were convicted of murder or felony sex crimes, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Florida did have a system established by Governor Rick Scott to restore voting rights to released felons, but the process often took years of work before someone could get a hearing for their civil rights to be restored, which was not guaranteed. My hope is it will cause a ripple effect to happen all over the country, because we all need the right to vote-especially individuals who paid their debt to society.

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

Florida is one of four states that permanently prevents people with felonies from voting, even if they've completed their sentence, probation and parole.

In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued an injunction for Scott to initiate a new clemency system to restore felons' voter rights by April.

Many states have conservative policies that disenfranchise voters (often, especially, people of color) but Florida is among the nation's worst offenders.

What's going on: The Sunshine State has been turning heads with what has been labeled by some as this year's "most bizarre" ballot initiative.

Unlike Florida, felons in many other states don't lose their rights or lose them only temporarily.

Supporters of the amendment have said the old process of applying for restoration of those rights is prohibitively hard and arbitrary. "One of the most important of our lifetime", social activist Shaun King tweeted. "Thank you for reaching Florida Rights Restoration Coalition".

Only in Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa are former felons barred from voting even after they have completed their sentences.

Before this ballot initiative passed, felons in Florida could only have their rights restored by appealing to the governor.

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