Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Florida voters approve Amendment 4 to restore felon voting rights

Florida voters approve Amendment 4 to restore felon voting rights

Constitutional Amendment 4 - known as the Voting Restoration Amendment - was passed in the state, allowing almost 1.5 million convicted felons who've served out their sentence to vote.

Its passage could reverberate beyond Florida into the 2020 presidential election due to the important role the state often plays in deciding close national elections, with a newly eligible 1.5 million voters coming into play.

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

Throughout the campaign, the ballot measure gained star-studded support from the likes of "Orange Is The New Black" author Piper Chapman, John Legend, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, NFL stars like Warrick Dunn and even the Koch-backed Freedom Partners.

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There are dozens of competitive races across the country that will determine control of the House, Senate and governors' seats. One polling station in Arlington still had a line past 9:00 a.m. - a time when many people would need to already be at work.

Owing to those restrictions and barriers, only around 10 percent of the 30,000 people who applied under Scott had their voting rights reinstated, according to the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Currently, more than 1.5 million adults in the state are ineligible to vote because they have felony convictions.

Other amendments passed in Florida on Tuesday included a move to give voters the ability to authorise or reject casino gambling, and another imposing limitations on property tax assessments. Florida also accounts for a quarter of the disenfranchised population in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project. Since 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott has only given the vote back to about 2,000 people. It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet. But, one vote has already been decided and needs no recount.

Florida was one of four states with a constitution that permanently disenfranchises residents with past felony convictions. Several people who appeared before the board this year said they had begun the process to get their voting rights restored over a decade ago. In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo restored the voting rights of an estimated 24,000 people who are now on probation or parole.

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Voter protection is run by Brian Kemp , the Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate challenging Stacey Abrams . The closing weeks of the campaign has been defined by charges and counter charges surrounding the election process itself.

The implications for the state's elections are enormous.

The results came in ahead of a closely watched gubernatorial race between former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

"A HUGE and hard fought victory".

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