Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Fairness triumphs with passage of Amendment 4

Election Results Florida Passes Amendment to Restore Voting Rights for Most Felons Election Results Florida Passes Amendment to Restore Voting Rights for Most Felons
Kenny Thornton | 07 November, 2018, 10:12

More than 1 million previously convicted felons have had their right to vote restored in Florida. 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 amendment restores voting rights to ex-felons who completed their sentences, although people convicted of murder or felony sex offences were excluded. Amendment 4 was one of 13 ballot initiatives that Floridians considered this year, but it has received the most national attention, as it enfranchises the largest population in US history since women's suffrage.

"Florida voters made a resoundingly clear statement that the state's shameful lifetime ban on voting is not consistent with the values of democracy", the group wrote. 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.

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.

One of them includes Florida Amendment 3, which would apparently block sports gambling in the state of Florida.

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A spokesman for Republican 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.

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.

Florida was among a minority of states that required additional waiting time or extra steps for felons to regain their voting rights. Scott boasted in Clemency Board meetings, where he presided alongside the three state Cabinet members, that "there's absolutely no standards so we can make any decisions we want". Almost all states allow felons to vote after completing their sentences.

The measure even garnered celebrity attention - pop star Rihanna urged Floridans to approve the measure.

It seems both obvious and astonishing: No one who will benefit from Amendment 4 voted for it. It was the deciding state in the 2000 election, and one of the most important ones in the 2016 election.

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