Florida approves ballot measure to restore voting rights to former felons

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The win is a big victory for voting rights and the rights of formerly incarcerated people.

Florida, long a swing state, could go more decidedly Democratic: Minorities, who form a substantial portion of the 1.4 million newly enfranchised voters, tend to vote for Democrats.

Those with felony convictions will now have their voting rights restored automatically if they've completed their sentences, including parole and probation. Whereas most states prohibit people now in prison from voting and some extend this to probation or parole, Florida was one of four states where felon status permanently removed one's voting rights.

"Voters in Florida have endorsed a historic advance in democracy for the United States by adopting Amendment 4", Marc Mauer, the executive director of the sentencing project said in a statement. That means 1.5 million Floridians with prior felony convictions will be eligible to vote in 2020.

Meanwhile, almost 79 percent of voters supported Amendment 12, which would expand lobbying restrictions on lawmakers and other state officials after they leave their positions.

"Ultimately, we are citizens, we are in the community, we do want to have a say-I know I do-and this is a great way to have that opportunity", says Bryan Russi, 42, of Orlando, an ex-felon and current real estate agent.

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While liberal-leaning groups succeeded in getting some of their favored policy proposals on the ballot in Republican-controlled states, the partisan pattern was reversed in Democratic-leaning OR and MA.

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". "When your time is done, it's done". A 60 percent majority vote would be needed for this to happen. They also argued that such laws disproportionately impact African Americans. Its stringent, complicated requirements led to a system that left one in five African-Americans disenfranchised, which is why Oliver called out the state so publicly.

In February, a federal judge declared Florida's current procedure for restoring voting rights to felons to be unconstitutional. The group collected more than 800,000 signatures to qualify Amendment 4 for the 2018 ballot.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate who has conceded in Florida's gubernatorial race, supported the measure while his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, opposed it.

Another gambling amendment Florida voters approved Tuesday was Amendment 3.

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