With all eyes still on the Florida Governor's race, a major victory for voting rights in the state has already been won.
Florida voters approved Amendment 4 Tuesday night, restoring voting rights for people who have previously been convicted of felonies and have completed their sentences, including probation and restitution. The decision will grant more than one million people in Florida the right to vote. The Amendment 4 decision excludes those convicted of murder and felony sex offenses.
At least 60 percent of Florida voters cast ballots in favor of the amendment, according to The Miami Herald. For the last seven years, those convicted of felonies in Florida had to wait five years after completing their sentences to apply to have their voting rights restored. The vast majority of people who appealed for clemency were denied.
The Sentencing Project projected in 2016 that 1.5 million Florida residents have been barred from voting because of this law, which is a remnant of Jim Crow policies.
Black voters will benefit the most — in 2016, 17.9 percent of potential black voters couldn’t cast ballots because of previous felony convictions. Kentucky and Iowa are the only other states that bar people charged with felonies from voting after serving their sentences (Virgina does so by law, but doesn’t enforce it).
Democrats in Florida — including gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Senator Bill Nelson — announced support of Amendment 4. Their respective Republican counterparts, Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, were both opposed.
The victory is the result of more than a year of organizing by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which gathered 1.1 million petition signatures to get the measure on the ballot.