Florida voters approve Amendment 4 on restoring felons’ voting rights

For Yraida Guanipa, an activist released from prison more than 10 years ago who currently defends other ex-convicts' human rights the change

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.

According to the Sentencing Project's 2016 estimates, the measure will benefit almost 1.5 million people in Florida who have completed their felony sentences but can't vote.

So-called Amendment 4 automatically restores voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences, paid restitution and fulfilled their parole or probation obligations - except those convicted of murder or sex crimes.

More than 1 million previously convicted felons have had their right to vote restored in Florida.

The current system significantly affects African-Americans in the state: More than 20 percent of otherwise eligible African-American adults are unable to vote under this process.

During Tuesday's midterm elections, largely seen as the first civic evaluation of President Donald Trump's administration, voters passed Amendment 4, which will return the ability to vote to an estimated one million people.

MI voters made their state the first in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana by passing a ballot measure that will allow people 21 or older to buy and use the drug. "I'm feeling a new chapter is beginning", he said in an interview.




In the end, quite a few more than the 19 percent of voters who said they were undecided last week ended up breaking toward "yes".

"We celebrate one of the largest expansions of the franchise in our nation's history", wrote ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon in a statement.

The old law disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos in particular. One out of every 13 African-Americans in the US has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement laws, compared to one in every 56 non-black voters, the Sentencing Project report said.

Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia joined Florida in felony disenfranchisement, which dates back to the Reconstruction Era when many politicians sought ways to prevent African Americans from voting after the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. It also had key gubernatorial and Senate races this year.

The newly approved measure made Florida's ballot after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a grassroots membership organization led and ran by formerly convicted persons, collected more than 800,000 signatures needed to qualify the amendment.

Another gambling amendment Florida voters approved Tuesday was Amendment 3.

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