Florida ballot initiative giving former felons the right to vote passes

09 November, 2018, 07:56 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • For Yraida Guanipa, an activist released from prison more than 10 years ago who currently defends other ex-convicts' human rights the change

Restoration of voting rights for felons in Florida has traditionally been something that Democrats have pushed for and Republicans have resisted, but in today's topsy-turvy political climate, it's unclear what will happen when felons who qualify are able to register to vote on January 8.

"If we want people returning to society to be productive, law abiding citizens, we need to treat them like full-fledged citizens", Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden wrote in his endorsement.

Climate change also was an issue in Arizona and Nevada, where voters considered measures requiring that 50 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. "One, Florida's system was just really broken".

But according to new research, that conventional wisdom might not be true.

Voters on Tuesday approved Amendment 4, which says that most felons will automatically have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences or go on probation. Nebraska and Idaho voters approved measures to expand Medicaid health coverage to tens of thousands of low-income residents; a similar measure was on the ballot in Utah, while a Montana measure would raise tobacco taxes to extend an existing expansion.

An analysis by Marc Meredith, a University of Pennsylvania political science professor; and Michael Morse, a Harvard PhD candidate, for Vox used Florida data from 2007 to 2011 to prove the point.

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The decision over whether or not to allow a convicted felon to vote, and when or if that right is restored, varies widely by state. Academics studying ex-felon voting report that anywhere between single digits to 35 percent of these eligible voters cast ballots.

The researchers found that black ex-felons registered as Democrats 87 percent of the time.

With passage of the amendment, Florida joins the ranks of dozens of American cities and states that have been relaxing restrictions on voting for former prisoners in recent years. As of 2016, more than 1 in 5 black Floridians couldn't vote thanks to the rule, according to an analysis by the Sentencing Project. A further eight states provide for partial disenfranchisement.

He said about a third of the 1.4 million people affected are African-American.

A spokesman for Governor Rick Scott said at the time that Florida's process for restoring voting rights to felons had been in place for decades and adhered to U.S. Supreme Court precedent. After becoming homeless and addicted to crack, Meade was convicted of three felonies before getting clean and graduating from law school. "That cuts out the other two means of placing amendments on the ballot, through the Legislature or the Constitution Revision Commission". "It was a vote of love", said Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the nonprofit group that organized the drive to put the amendment change on the ballot.

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