Ballot Initiative could restore voting rights to millions of ex-felons
In a huge victory for voting rights, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative on Tuesday that could restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million ex-felons in the state. It received about 64 percent of the vote with most votes counted, clearing the 60 percent threshold needed to pass.
Amendment 4, as it was called on the ballot, automatically restores voting rights to people with felony records who have completed their full sentences, except those convicted of murder or a sexual offense. Florida is one of only four states that prevent ex-felons from voting even after they’ve paid their debt to society. This felon disenfranchisement law, which dates back to the Jim Crow era, blocks 10 percent of Floridians from voting, including one in five African Americans. Amendment 4 repeals this law and could lead to the largest increase in new voters in the state since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.