More than 1.5 million Florida residents are barred from voting in state elections for the rest of their lives, because of a tough law that permanently revokes voting rights for anyone convicted of a felony. But a measure on the November ballot could change that, allowing those who have served their time to cast votes as soon as the 2020 elections. The “Voting Restoration Amendment,” also called Amendment 4, was approved to be on the ballot back in January after gathering the requisite 766,200 signatures and would automatically restore voting rights to felons – murderers and sex offenders not included – who have done prison time, completed parole or probation and paid any restitution. Florida’s ballot measure is part of a broader move over the last few decades to restore voting rights to felons, but is the first to put it to voters to decide.
“This would move Florida out of being an outlier and more into the mainstream,” Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, told Fox News. “This follows the general trend we have seen in recent years.”
Critics of these laws claim they are designed to keep black voters from the polls.
Democratic governors in states like New York and Virginia have issued executive orders re-enfranchising people with felony records, while lawmakers in places such as Maryland and New Jersey have passed or are considering pushing measures through the statehouse to restore voting rights.