Floridians approved a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to people with felony convictions once they complete their sentences, a historic move expanding the right to vote to about 1.4 million people and reverses a state policy rooted in the Jim Crow South.
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.
Previously, Florida was one of just four states in the U.S. that automatically and permanently revoked voting rights from anyone who had been convicted of a felony-level crime.
"Right about now, we can presently say that we have made history", said Rhonda Thomas, manager of the "Let My People Vote" campaign. Voters there upheld a law allowing use of state money to pay for low-income women to have abortions, and also reaffirmed a "sanctuary state" law forbidding law enforcement agencies from using state resources or personnel to arrest people whose only crime is being in the US illegally. Since 2011, Scott has restored voting rights to just over 3,000 people.
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If the amendment had failed, Florida's state legislature could have sought to legalize sports betting at casinos through a bill, bypassing a vote by state residents. During his two terms in office, former Gov. and now Sen. -elect Rick Scott had restored the voting rights of roughly 3,000 felons who had served out their sentences.
"People should be able to pay their dues and be able to become full citizens, so to speak", he told New Times outside his Miami Beach polling place Tuesday.
The measure was placed on the ballot by petition. Florida is a swing state, and if the close defeats of Democratic incumbent Sen.
"Today, Floridians from all walks of life and political persuasions came together to make Florida a better democracy and affirm our shared value that when a debt is paid, it's paid", Desmond Meade, chairman of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a group that led efforts to pass the amendment, said in a prepared statement. "It's one of the most awful processes this state has ever invented". "I did a year of probation, and this was more than four years ago". "Thank you for reaching Florida Rights Restoration Coalition". It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet.
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