ex-felon enfranchisement

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Florida: Lawmakers might not give voting rights back to felons, even though 64% of voters want them to | Business Insider

Florida lawmakers might not be ready to put Amendment 4 — a measure approved by 64.5% of Florida voters that would give voting rights back to most felons who have completed their sentences — into action. According to WFTV 9, a local news station in Florida, the state has put enforcement of the amendment on pause until the new governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, is sworn in. WFTV reported that lawmakers are waiting to see if the Florida Legislature might need to weigh in on the measure. The amendment, which would restore voting rights to more than 1.5 million felons, does not call for any involvement of this kind. In Florida, 23% of African-American adults cannot vote due to a previous felony conviction. Amendment 4, the measure that would change that, received wide support among residents in a state with strict clemency laws. It was scheduled to take effect on January 8.  Read More

Florida: Ron DeSantis says Amendment 4 should be delayed until he signs bill from lawmakers | Tampa Bay Times

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis said that Amendment 4, which was approved by 64.6 percent (or 5.2 million) of Florida voters, shouldn’t go into effect as intended by the people who wrote the ballot measure. Instead, DeSantis said the amendment, which would restore voting rights for most ex-felons who have served their sentences, should take effect after state lawmakers pass “implementing language” in a bill that is then sent to him for his signature. That means at least a two month delay in restoring felon rights. Advocates of Amendment 4, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the measure should go into effect on Jan. 8, but session doesn’t start until March 5. This could deny voting rights for many in Tampa hoping to cast a ballot in the mayor’s race. Read More

Florida: Confusion clouds restoration of Florida felons’ voting rights | Tampa Bay Times

Florida voters spoke clearly four weeks ago: They restored the right to vote to most convicted felons who complete their sentences. When it becomes Florida law in five weeks, an estimated 1.2 million felons will be eligible to rejoin the voter rolls. But at a statewide elections conference Tuesday, it was obvious that confusion and uncertainty still hovers over implementation of Amendment 4. The state announced that it has stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls. One official said the issue requires more research on how to carry out the will of the people. “The state is putting a pause button on our felon identification files,” Division of Elections director Maria Matthews told election supervisors from most of the state’s 67 counties at a mid-winter meeting. “We need this time to research it, to be sure we are providing the appropriate guidance.” Read More

Kentucky: Lawmakers To Consider Restoring Voting Rights To People With Felonies | WVXU

Kentucky is one of two states that permanently ban people with felony convictions from voting. It’s enshrined in the state constitution. The only way to restore voting rights is to appeal to the governor. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said he will propose a constitutional amendment to allow voting rights to be restored to some people who have completed their felony sentences. “When the constitution was written in Kentucky a lot of these crimes weren’t even felonies. We’ve made them that since then. So it’s not like the constitution intended to deprive people of their voice and their own community for the rest of their lives for a simple mistake,” McGarvey said. McGarvey said the legislation, which hasn’t been finalized yet, will likely still ban people who have committed voter fraud or crimes that involve violence or sexual assault. Read More

Kentucky: Bill to restore voting rights of Kentucky felons expected to be pre-filed this week | WDRB

On the heels of Florida voters deciding to reinstate voting rights to felons that have served their sentences, Kentucky could soon face a similar debate with new legislation expected to be filed this week. Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey, of Louisville, expects to pre-file a bill that would restore voting rights to convicted felons once their sentence, including probation and parole, is complete. “When they have a job and they’re living and working in our community, they need a voice in that community,” McGarvey said. “That voice comes at the ballot box.” With the passage of Florida’s bill, Kentucky and Iowa became the only states in the country that do not restore voting rights in some manner at the completion of a sentence. In Kentucky, felons can only have the right restored via an executive pardon from Governor Matt Bevin. Read More

Iowa: Should Iowa restore voting rights to 52,000 felons? Advisory board pushes proposal. | Des Moines Register

Iowa felon voter rights should be restored, a legislative advisory board recommended Wednesday. It’s a proposal that could affect about 52,000 Iowans. After Florida voters on Nov. 6 approved an amendment to their state’s constitution that automatically restores the voting rights of felons who’ve completed their sentences or go on probation, Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that permanently ban all felons from voting unless the governor individually restores their rights. “Iowa has been a leader on a whole range of civil rights issues; this is not one of them. Iowa is in the back of the line on this one,” Daniel Zeno, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said Wednesday to Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board. Read More

National: Before the Fights Over Recounts: An Election Day Vote on Voting | The New York Times

Amid the recounts, recriminations and allegations of voter suppression or ballot fraud, something else happened in Tuesday’s elections — a wave of actions aimed at making voting easier and fairer that is an often-overlooked strain in the nation’s voting wars. Floridians extended voting rights to 1.4 million convicted felons. Maryland, Nevada and Michigan were among states that made it easier to register and vote. Michigan, along with Colorado and Missouri, limited politicians’ ability to directly draw, and gerrymander, district lines. Utah, where votes are still being tallied, appears poised to do the same. It was as if states around the country were pulled in two directions at once — with measures aimed at broadening voter participation coming on the heels of recent laws and regulations making it harder to register and vote. Still, for all the charges and countercharges on voter suppression, most of the momentum Tuesday was on measures quite likely to broaden voter participation and limit gerrymanders. Read More

Kentucky: Locked out: Critics say it’s time to end Kentucky’s ban on felon voting | Louisville Courier Journal

Last week’s election held personal stakes for Sara Lee. A Louisville mother of four planning to finish a master’s degree after battling addiction, Lee wanted to vote for candidates who could improve health care, education funding and women’s rights. But Lee’s 2013 felony drug conviction — for which she completed seven months in jail — meant the 37-year-old couldn’t cast a ballot. It left her watching on the sidelines. “I feel like I don’t have a voice,” she said. Kentucky has long had some of the nation’s highest rates of felony disenfranchisement — taking away voting rights because of a crime conviction. Nearly one in 10 residents — and a nation-topping one in four African-Americans — are barred from voting for life because of felony convictions, according to the Washington D.C.-based Sentencing Project. Read More

National: Three States Pass Sweeping Voting Rights Expansions | Roll Call

Voting rights activists are celebrating after voters in three states approved sweeping election reforms in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Voters in Florida, Michigan and Nevada all passed major reforms to their states’ election systems, which will make voting easier and extend ballot access to millions of new voters. Florida’s Amendment 4, approved by 64 percent of voters, will restore voting rights to more than 1 million residents convicted of certain felonies. About 10 percent of Florida adults will be newly eligible to vote, of which a disproportionate number are African-Americans. Meanwhile, Nevada and Michigan both passed automatic voter registration measures Tuesday, meaning residents in future elections will be added to voting rolls when they obtain or renew a driver’s license or conduct other business with the state, unless they opt out.  Read More

Florida: Voters approve Amendment 4 on restoring felons’ voting rights | Miami Herald

About 1.2 million convicted felons in Florida will automatically have their right to vote restored, thanks to a ballot measure that received about 65 percent of the vote Tuesday. At least 60 percent of voters had to approve it for Amendment 4 to become law. For the past seven years, felons have had to wait five years after completing their sentence to even apply to have their voting rights restored. The movement to reform the state’s notoriously strict restoration process was championed by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a bipartisan group led by convicted felons. The group collected more than 800,000 signatures to qualify Amendment 4 for the 2018 ballot. Read More