Florida Elects to Restore Voting Rights to Former Felons; 1 Million People Regain Right to Vote

Florida voters during Tuesday’s midterm elections approved Amendment 4, automatically restoring voting rights in the state for people previously convicted of felonies.

Florida’s Amendment 4 restores voting rights for people in the state convicted of felonies as long as they have completed their sentences, although anyone convicted of murder or felony sex offenses would be excluded.

Based on the Sentencing Project’s 2016 estimates, this benefits more than a million people. The organization estimated in 2016 that nearly 1.5 million people in Florida have completed felony sentences but can’t vote — about 9.2 percent of the voting-age population in Florida. The total, though, includes some people convicted of murder and felony sex offenses, so not every one of those people benefits under Amendment 4.

Black people, who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, will benefit the most. In 2016, more than 418,000 black people out of a black voting-age population of more than 2.3 million, or 17.9 percent of potential black voters in Florida, had finished sentences but couldn’t vote due to a felony record, according to the Sentencing Project. (Again, this includes some people convicted of murders and felony sex offenses.)

The amendment was officially supported by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which gathered more than 1.1 million petitions to put it on the ballot. It received bipartisan endorsements from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Koch brothers–backed Freedom Partners.

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SOURCE: German Lopez
Vox