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Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons

07 November 2018

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All U.S. states except for ME and Vermont bar felons from voting while they are incarcerated, but most restore that right when the inmate is released or following a period of parole or probation.

People convicted of murder and sexual offenses are exempt from the amendment and won't have their rights automatically restored.

Amendment 4 required 60 percent approval to pass. Voters there upheld a law allowing use of state money to pay for low-income women to have abortions, and also reaffirmed a "sanctuary state" law forbidding law enforcement agencies from using state resources or personnel to arrest people whose only crime is being in the US illegally.

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during his election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Fla. We applaud the people of Florida! They could then apply to the state to get their rights restored, but the decision was up to a four-person clemency board headed up by Scott.

The implications for the state's elections are enormous. Although they make up only 16 percent of the population according to the 2010 Census, black people make up 43 percent of Florida's inmate population, according to the latest yearly report from the Florida Department of Corrections.

According to the Florida state department, roughly 13 million citizens are registered to vote, with both Republicans and Democrats having almost 5 million party members each.

In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued an injunction for Scott to initiate a new clemency system to restore felons' voter rights by April.

In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott instituted a policy requiring any Floridian convicted of a felony to endure a waiting period of at least five years after completing all aspects of their sentences, including parole or probation and paying fines. But, Walker's ruling was blocked by a federal appeals court.

Neil Volz, political director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the group behind the measure, said he and Desmond Meade, the group's chair, were watching the returns in a hotel room in Orlando together and broke into tears when it was announced the amendment passed.

The measure even garnered celebrity attention - pop star Rihanna urged Floridans to approve the measure. Now, they say, they need to get people to vote. Florida's most notable tight race was the presidential election in 2000, when George W. Bush narrowly won the presidency.

Activits took to social media after the win to laud the voters, and the amendment. It was the deciding state in the 2000 election, and one of the most important ones in the 2016 election.

Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons