Florida Gives Voting Rights To Former Felons

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The new law does not apply to anyone convicted of murder or sex offenses. You think about 1.4 million people who have been denied the right, even though they have done everything they can.

Approximately 1.5 million people are now barred from voting in the state because of a past felony conviction - a figure representing about 10 percent of Florida's adult population. Under its terms, most felons will automatically have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences or go on probation.

The amendment had largely been polling above the required 60 percent needed to be added to the state constitution. Fifty-seven-year-old Zinovy Nudel said he would have supported rights restoration years ago, but it wasn't on the ballot.

In February, a federal judge ruled the state's policy requiring felons to petition the government to have their voting rights restored was unconstitutional because it was lengthy, arbitrary and forced them to "kow-tow" to the whims of state politicians.

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.

"Remember, nothing is impossible when you have God on your side", said Meade's voicemail, who could not be reached on Wednesday morning but clearly sees this work as a calling. Florida's harsh, lifetime ban on voting rights, which racist lawmakers approved during the Jim Crow era, meant that more than one in five black adults had been permanently blocked from casting a ballot. According to a 2016 report from the Sentencing Project, the state of Florida is responsible for 27 percent of the nation's disenfranchised population, and 48 percent of the nation's disenfranchised convicted ex-felon population.

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Florida voters have regularly swung between supporting Republican and Democratic presidential candidates over the past few decades.

Still, on an evening when liberals and progressives are nervously awaiting results in Florida and around the country, a win for voting rights is a significant victory worthy of celebrating.

"We are on the cusp of history here in Florida", said Delaitre Hollinger, president of the NAACP's Tallahassee branch.

Essentially, based on research at Ballotpedia.org, which cites both supporters and opposition of the amendment, Florida Amendment 3 is created to take the legislation of gambling out of hands of legislators and put it into the hands of the citizens. Other states, like Florida before Tuesday, banned them from ever voting once they had a felony conviction, even years after their full sentence had been completed.

Most states have some voting restrictions for people convicted of felonies.

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