About 1.5 million people in Florida cannot vote because of a prior felony conviction. An amendment to the state’s constitution would give those folks a second chance if passed in November.
“Through the hard work of Florida voters and unwavering dedication of a truly grassroots movement, we have reached a historic milestone and have officially placed the Second Chances Voting Restoration Amendment on the ballot,” Desmond Meade, chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy said in a press release. “Voters took matters in their own hands to ensure that their fellow Floridians, family members, and friends who’ve made past mistakes, served their time and paid their debts to society are given a second chance and the opportunity to earn back their ability to vote.”
Florida is one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting. The amendment specifies people must complete their entire sentences, and it also excludes people convicted of murder and a felony sexual offense.
“Now is the time to return the ability to vote to Floridians who have done their time and paid their debts,” the campaign’s website reads. “These are our family members, friends, and neighbors who have earned the opportunity to participate in and give back to their communities. It’s simply the right thing to do.”
According to the ACLU of Florida 6.1 million people in the U.S. have permanently lost their right to vote with Florida accounting for about 25 percent of them.
“As a result, one in ten Floridians are shut out of our democracy,” their website reads.
Currently the only way to have your rights, which includes voting, restored in Florida is to ask for clemency from the state. When Charlie Crist was the Republican governor of Florida, he restored those rights to about 155,000 people during his four years.
Meanwhile Rick Scott, his Republican successor halted the program and in his almost 8 years in office has only restored the rights to about 2,500 people. Clemency also allows a person to serve on a jury, and run for office. The second chances amendment only applies to voting.
Visit SecondChancesFL.org for more information about the campaign.