Florida approves Amendment 4, restoring ex-felons' voting rights

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With passage of the amendment, Florida joins the ranks of dozens of American cities and states that have been relaxing restrictions on voting for former prisoners in recent years.

Florida has not taken advantage of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially legalizes betting on sports teams. Amendment 4 will not apply to people who were convicted of murder or felony sex crimes, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

During the Amendment 4 campaign, Meade's organization partnered with ACLU of Florida and Alliance for Safety and Justice, the California-based group that helped pass legislation in 2016 to incentivize good behavior in prison and also move up parole consideration for nonviolent offenders.

Those were the first notable results as voters in 37 states considered an array of intriguing ballot measures - ranging from marijuana legalization to boosting the minimum wage to civil rights protections for transgender people. The measure drew strong support and financial backing from the Walt Disney Company and the Seminole Tribe of Indians, which operates casinos in the state.

"In Florida, elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines, or standards", the judge said. "They should be able to come home and get reintegrated into society", Lawrance says. "Why shouldn't my rights be restored?" I can't cast a vote for anything.

An additional 1.2 million voters could be a game-changer in a state with notoriously close races.

Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 8, 2018.

In the following months, groups like Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Second Chances and the Florida Restoration of Rights Coalition would wage an enormous outreach effort, including several statewide television spots.

Regaining the right to vote is a complicated process.

Only in Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa are former felons barred from voting even after they have completed their sentences.

There, a person had to apply to the governor for clemency, but could do so only after a waiting period. There is a backlog of more than 10,000 requests. And the Miami Dolphins, an National Football League team, is encouraging people to make sure that doesn't happen. Only 3,000 cases have made it to Scott in eight years.

It's because of these tensions in the backdrop that news of the movement was covered nationally, drawing celebrity endorsements and support from high-profile commentators.

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