When Florida voters approved a sweeping ballot initiative last month to restore the voting rights of some felons, advocates rejoiced in the expectation that more than a million people would soon have the chance to add their names to the voter rolls. Now, a fight is brewing between the broad coalition of civil and voting rights groups that backed the measure and some state and local officials who argue that lawmakers must shape its implementation given the wide-ranging nature of the initiative. That has raised concerns among some of the measure’s supporters that any action by opponents could lead to legislation that lingers in the state Capitol, months after they expected it to begin. The growing uncertainty over how — and when — the measure, known as Amendment 4, will take effect has stirred confusion among county election officials and raised the prospect of a bitter legal dispute over the voting rights of roughly 1.4 million people convicted of felonies.
Florida’s laws barring those with felony records from voting were among the toughest in the country.
Along with Kentucky and Iowa, it was among three states that permanently revoked felons’ access to the ballot box. Those who hoped to have their voting rights restored were required to plead their case to the state’s Executive Clemency Board — a panel made up of the governor and his Cabinet.
But that process was dealt a fatal blow in November, when nearly 65 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which is intended to reinstate the voting rights of most felons who have served out their sentences. The measure carves out exceptions for those convicted of murder or felony sex crimes.
Full Article: Fight brews over felons’ voting rights in Florida | TheHill.