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Politics

Amendment 4: Voting Restoration Amendment

October 5, 2018 - 6:00am

Ballot Language: This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.

How The Amendment Reached The Ballot: Citizen Initiative

What Your Vote Means: A Yes vote on this measure: restores the right to vote for people who have committed felony crimes. There are some exceptions for individuals who have committed murder or a felony sexual offense. A No vote on this measure: continues the practice of requiring former felons to petition the state for restoration of voting rights.

Pro: Amendment 4 re-enfranchises individuals who have paid their debt to society in full. The current system is a bottleneck that has disparate impacts on felons who are unable to navigate the system. Felons must wait 5-10 years before fully regaining their voting rights. Currently, Floridians can only regain the ability to vote by applying to the state Office of Executive Clemency. Then they must be granted a hearing and successfully plead their case. It appears that this ability comes without clear guidelines or standards, but rather at the behest of those members of the Clemency Board. In February, the United States District Court declared the current voter restoration process unconstitutional. The court held that Florida’s system is arbitrary and tramples on the rights of citizens. The case is making its way through the appeals process, but the issue is unlikely to be resolved by the November election. This measure would mean an estimated 1.5 million Floridians regain their right to vote. Moreover, this step would reintegrate these individuals back into both the Florida society and economy. A study conducted by the Washington Economics Group found that Florida’s annual economy could see a boost of $365 million, and an increase of 3,400 jobs if Amendment 4 were to pass.

Con: A process to award felons their voting rights already exists in Florida. The system approved by the State in 2011 created an avenue for those who committed nonviolent crimes to restore their rights. In order to apply, these individuals must wait a minimum of five years before the restoration process takes place. Opponents argue that Amendment 4 is an all or nothing proposal that does not consider the nature of the crime committed. For opponents, the nature of the crime plays a crucial role in restoring the right to vote. Amendment 4 only makes exceptions for murder and sexual offenses.

 

This amendment is reprinted with permission from the James Madison Institute's 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide. Click below to read more from our site!

 

Comments

“No taxation without representation is a cornerstone of our society, if we can’t vote, we shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Not to mention illegal immigrats can vote giving them more rights than citizens

Since it does not appear that this Amendment would erase or expunge a felony conviction from a convict’s record, which is what keeps people from getting some jobs, how dies this Amendment put any money into society as claimed above?

If your debt to society is paid in full, then all of your rights should be restored.

This is a no brainer and an easy yes. If you are fit enough to return to society and contribute, you are certainly fit enough to vote.

You say that it is a yes, but murderers and sex offenders are not included so is it really a yes??

If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. Read more about this issue on our website here [ http://www.ceousa.org/voting/voting-news/felon-voting/538-answering-the-challenges-to-felon-disenfranchisement ] and our congressional testimony here: [ http://judiciary.house.gov/_files/hearings/pdf/Clegg100316.pdf ]

It happens 4 times a year and the gov. Can decline on any basis or none. Imagine the backlog this creates, the numbers are mind boggling. And it shouldn’t be a life sentence I have been an outstanding citizen without even a speeding ticket for over 20 years. Illegal immigrants have mote rights than I do. “No taxation without representation “ is a cornerstone of our society, if they don’t want to let us vote, we shouldn’t be subjected to their tax system.

Scared to death of losing political power from a white male older Republican, aren't we . . . . . . . and you'll stand by your statement that "If there were any evidence that a state’s disenfranchisement law is truly discriminatory, it would be considered unconstitutional under Supreme Court rulings", correct . . . . . . hmmm, wonder how equal protection under the law works, when a released felon can simply move to another state and have restored voting rights, while in Florida we have around 1.5 million ex-felons that are denied the right to vote, many for life . . . . . . in Florida, what percentage have their rights restored in one year (0%), five years or even after 30 years . . . . a few, single digit percentage (or less) of felons per year . . . . . . . . . . . . in 2016, 473 out of ~1,500,000 (about 0.03%) had rights restored . . . . . . yeah, that's not blatant, intentional disenfranchisement for political reasons, now is it . . . . . . . . . at that rate, it would take over 1,500 years for even half the ex-felons to have their rights restored if they did nothing after release . . . . . . . . . . . . . . just like eliminating Sunday early voting and purging voter rolls without valid reasons . . . . . . . . . . . targeted, partisan voting disenfranchisement . . . . . always . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Here’s an idea ... don’t commit the crime in the first place.

No taxation without representation...if you can be taxed you should be able to vote.

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