Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

Florida Votes To Restore Voting Rights To 1.4 Million Former Felons

Supporters of Amendment 4 celebrate its passage at an election night watch party in Orlando Florida / CJ Ciaramella  Reason Supporters of Amendment 4 celebrate its passage at an election night watch party in Orlando Florida / CJ Ciaramella Reason
Patty Aguilar | 07 November, 2018, 10:14

One out of every 13 African-Americans in the USA has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement laws, compared to one in every 56 non-black voters, the Sentencing Project report said.

The 1.4 million people affected make up almost a tenth of Florida's voting age population, implying potentially serious changes for the 2020 elections in this critical swing state.

The measure doesn't apply to anyone convicted of murder and felony sex offenses.

For many residents, they say although they've paid a price for their crimes, the lingering effects actions are taking a disproportionate toll.

Voters in the U.S. state of Florida have approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to people in the state who have been convicted of felonies in the past. I can't cast a vote for anything.

Amendment 4, a high-profile measure explored as part of TPM's "Retreat From Democracy" series, passed, according to projections from CNN and NBC News.

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Our Revolution president Nina Turner said in a statement that "tonight's passage of Amendment 4, commonly referred to as 'Second Chances, ' shows that we, as a country, are moving towards a more just, equitable society that lives up to the value of 'one person, one vote'". The measure needed 60% to pass. More than 1 in 5 African-Americans in the state are disenfranchised because of the policy, according to an estimate from The Sentencing Project. Blocking felons from voting while also passing criminal codes that targeted black people was a strategy to keep African-Americans from the ballot box.

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during his election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Fla.

Five days out from Election Day, voters were teetering between enshrining the amendment in the state's governing document and telling state lawmakers to kick rocks with 47 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed. Scott and other top officials met only four times a year to consider applications to restore voting rights, causing a backlog of more than 10,000 requests. For years, the vast majority of disenfranchised felons were non-violent offenders who served their sentences, but were still unable to vote.

Per usual, the key races in Florida are nail biters.

Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 8, 2018.

"A HUGE and hard fought victory".

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