Florida voters will have a chance to restore voting rights to former felons

Tue, Jan 23, 2018

Florida voters will have a chance to restore voting rights to more than 1 million former felons through a ballot initiative this November. The proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday reached the 766,200 petition signatures required to go on the ballot. The Voting Restoration Amendment, which the state is expected to certify soon, would automatically restore rights to citizens convicted of most non-violent crimes who have completed their prison sentence, parole, and probation. Only those convicted of murder or felony sexual offense would be excluded. If approved with 60 percent of the vote in November, the amendment has the potential to reshape electoral politics in Florida, a critical swing state, and set the example for other states grappling with whether to relax strict laws prohibiting people with criminal convictions from voting. Florida currently has one of the strictest felon disenfranchisement laws in the country — only Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, and Iowa permanently bar those with felony convictions from voting for life, unless they seek clemency. In total, roughly 1.6 million Florida citizens — about one in four African Americans — are barred from casting a ballot. Sheena Meade, organizing director for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition which led the initiative to gather more than a million signatures, told ThinkProgress that getting the amendment certified is a “huge accomplishment for the people of Florida.”

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Tags: voting rights, felons, voter rights restoration

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