Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Florida grants felons who have served their time the right to vote

Florida grants felons who have served their time the right to vote

Previously, Florida was one of just four states in the U.S. that automatically and permanently revoked voting rights from anyone who had been convicted of a felony-level crime.

At the beginning of 2018, Floridians for a Fair Democracy collected more than 799,000 certified petition signatures, or about 33,000 more than the group needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Demetrius Jifunza is a convicted felon and father of three children who wants to be able to fight for a better future for them by voting.

"'Kol hakavod' to the Reform Jewish communities in Florida - and across the USA - who organized and mobilized to make this happen", the national Religious Action Center said on Twitter, using the Hebrew term for "well done". It is estimated that this change to Florida's constitution will allow some 1.5 million disenfranchised citizens to vote, some 10 percent of the adult population, and 21 percent of the adult black population.

The passage of Amendment Four with the support of 64 percent of voters could reverberate beyond Florida into the 2020 presidential election because of the outsize role the battleground state often plays in deciding close national elections. In 2016, 21 percent of African-Americans were disenfranchised, according to The Sentencing Project.

Florida residents are voting on a Constitutional Amendment at the polls today known as the 'Voting Rights Restoration Initiative'.

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"Right about now, we can presently say that we have made history", said Rhonda Thomas, manager of the "Let My People Vote" campaign.

It seems both obvious and astonishing: No one who will benefit from Amendment 4 voted for it. Whereas most states prohibit people now in prison from voting and some extend this to probation or parole, Florida was one of four states where felon status permanently removed one's voting rights. It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet.

Scott was running for senator in the state this election cycle due to being term-limited out of office.

Florida has voted in favor of restoring felons' voting rights automatically on Tuesday night.

Shortly after Amendment 4 passed, Trump-aligned Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly defeated progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for Florida governor. Almost all states allow felons to vote after completing their sentences.

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