While many voters on the left side of the spectrum are having mixed feelings about some of the midterm turnouts, voters in Florida made history voting in a progressive piece of legislation known as Amendment 4. The amendment restores the voting rights of ex-felons who were stripped of their voting right upon conviction.
The passage of Amendment 4 allows all felons except murderers and sex offenders to have their voting rights restored if they’ve served their sentence. Prior to the vote, some 1.5 million Floridians, roughly 9.2% of voting-age residents, have completed their sentences without being able to vote.
Based on the Sentencing Project’s 2016 estimates, this benefits more than a million people. The organization estimated in 2016 that nearly 1.5 million people in Florida have completed felony sentences but can’t vote — about 9.2 percent of the voting-age population in Florida. The total, though, includes some people convicted of murder and felony sex offenses, so not every one of those people benefits under Amendment 4.
Black people, who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, will benefit the most. In 2016, more than 418,000 black people out of a black voting-age population of more than 2.3 million, or 17.9 percent of potential black voters in Florida, had finished sentences but couldn’t vote due to a felony record, according to the Sentencing Project.
The amendment was officially supported by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which gathered more than 1.1 million petitions to put it on the ballot. It received bipartisan endorsements from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Koch brothers–backed Freedom Partners.
Most states have at least some voting restrictions for people convicted of felonies. Most often, the law bars people who are currently in prison from voting. Some prohibit voting until a person finishes parole or probation, too.
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