Florida has officially passed Constitutional Amendment 4, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative. As the name suggests, the amendment will restore voting rights to people who had prior felony convictions once they completed their sentence. However, those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense would still not be able to vote.
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Previously, Florida’s system required felons who completed their sentences to wait five years before they could appeal the governor and his cabinet to restore their voting rights. According to the Sentencing Project, 21 percent of black people were unable to cast a vote due to past felony convictions. Now, about 1.5 million people in the state have earned back their rights, thanks to a petition launched by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a grassroots membership organization that collected about 800,000 signatures in order for the amendment to qualify for the 2018 ballot.
Even Rihanna backed the initiative in a post urging Floridians to vote earlier this week:
Before the approval of the amendment, Florida was one of three states, along with Kentucky and Iowa, that barred people with prior felony convictions from voting. Last night, Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum lost by less than 100,000 votes.