After 850,000 Florida voters signed a petition to demand Amendment 4, the voter rights restoration bill will be on the ballot this November.
The state may finally allow convicted felons the right to vote without an elaborate clemency application process, according to the Black Youth Project.
If passed, an estimated 1.4 million convicted felons will have their voting rights restored.
To be eligible, former felons would need to complete their sentences, which includes house arrest, jail time, financial costs, and all other special requirements — felons convicted of sex crimes or murder are not eligible.
What exactly is the Voting Restoration Amendment – and what will a #YesOn4 vote really mean for the 1.4 million Floridians currently barred from voting due to a past mistake? Read the full Amendment 4 text here: https://t.co/alxOpTlYxU pic.twitter.com/EutETtudHW
— Second Chances Florida (@YesTo2ndChances) October 18, 2018
According to the Miami Herald, the Florida Commission on Offender Review has found that most felons with restored civil rights or who are given any avenues for civic participation are less likely to commit new crimes.
“If you consider data from the last seven fiscal years, a total of 5,344 felons were granted clemency restoration of civil rights and only 12 people were convicted of new felonies requiring state prison,” Reggie Garcia, a civil rights lawyer wrote.”
Garcia argued that this measure could save the state money given that Florida taxpayers currently fund over 130 state and federal prisons, which doesn’t take into account private prisons.
Amendment 4 has seen national support from singer and activist John Legend, the ACLU and ice-cream company Ben and Jerry’s — Amendment 4 is among its top-tier election issues.
Voting advocacy groups stress that Florida’s current system is remnant of Jim Crow laws, designed to deter Black Americans from voting.
For Florida’s 13 million voters, groups continue that they have a unique opportunity to assist in prison reform. The amendment requires 60 percent of all voters’ approval to amend the state’s constitution.
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Sarafina Wright is a political correspondent for EBONY.com. Previously she served as the editor of the WI Bridge and staff writer at the Washington Informer in Washington, DC, covering business, education, health and politics. She attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. Sarafina can be reached at email@example.com.