Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons

Florida Restores Voting Rights for Most Felons

About 1.2 million convicted felons in Florida will automatically have their right to vote restored, thanks to a ballot measure that received about 65 percent of the vote Tuesday. The amendment exempts those convicted of sex offenses and murder.

"'Kol hakavod' to the Reform Jewish communities in Florida - and across the USA - who organized and mobilized to make this happen", the national Religious Action Center said on Twitter, using the Hebrew term for "well done".

The 1.4 million people affected make up almost a tenth of Florida's voting age population, implying potentially serious changes for the 2020 elections in this critical swing state.

A number of major Jewish philanthropists contributed to the campaign, including George Soros, Seth Klarman and Stacy Schusterman.

Florida voters have approved a ballot initiative which provides former felons with the right to vote, re-enfranchising 1.4 million people. In 2016, 21 percent of African-Americans were disenfranchised, according to The Sentencing Project. 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.

Florida has voted in favor of restoring felons' voting rights automatically on Tuesday night. He also serves as the Executive Director of Florida Restoration Rights Coalition, the grassroots organization responsible for collecting Amendment 4 petitions. 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.

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Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during his election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Fla.

The implications for the state's elections are enormous. Those people will still be barred from voting unless their rights are restored by the state clemency board, which consists of the governor and the three cabinet officers (attorney general, chief financial officer and commissioner of agriculture and consumer services).

Stars like John Legend and Rihanna also expressed their support for the measure.

Republicans like gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott, nominee for U.S. Senate, said they were opposed.

"This is proof when you speak up and work hard and fight for something you believe in, good things will happen", Stratemann said. "One of the most important of our lifetime", social activist Shaun King tweeted.

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