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Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons

08 November 2018
Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons

Floridians voted Tuesday evening to restore the right to vote to some 1.4 million ex-felons in the state.

Voters in Florida approved an amendment that would restore voting rights to convicted felons who had finished serving their full sentence.

The newly approved measure made Florida's ballot after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a grassroots membership organization led and ran by formerly convicted persons, collected more than 800,000 signatures needed to qualify the amendment.

By Tuesday evening, more than 60 percent of Floridians casting ballots had voted yes, capping one of 2016's most inspired and politically important campaigns, an effort that sparked a grassroots army that will undoubtedly continue to participate in politics.

Florida is one of the few states with a ban on felon voting.

Most states have some voting restrictions for people convicted of felonies.

Scott has said, "If you are a convicted felon part of what you did is you lose your rights and there ought to be a process to get those rights back".

"You just can't explain these numbers based on some mystical theory that there's no racial bias involved", he said. For nonblack former felons, the majority - 40 percent - became registered Republicans.

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.

Stephen Graham only received probation for a 2011 marijuana charge, but he still can't vote. During those four years, policies enacted by then-Gov. I can't cast a vote for anything.

Florida voters have regularly swung between supporting Republican and Democratic presidential candidates over the past few decades.

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during his election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Fla. According to nonprofit group, Public Citizen, this not only "repeal [s] one of the country's worst Jim Crow laws, it's also the largest expansion in voting rights since the Voting Rights Act".

Before this ballot initiative passed, felons in Florida could only have their rights restored by appealing to the governor. There is a backlog of more than 10,000 requests. And the Miami Dolphins, an National Football League team, is encouraging people to make sure that doesn't happen.

Throughout the campaign, the ballot measure gained star-studded support from the likes of "Orange Is The New Black" author Piper Chapman, John Legend, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, NFL stars like Warrick Dunn and even the Koch-backed Freedom Partners.