Amendment 4 Restores Voting Rights to Felons

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Amendment 4 Restores Voting Rights to Felons

Andres Rincon, Author

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With the passage of Amendment 4, voting rights have been restored to felons in Florida, allowing as many as 1.4 million people to vote. The amendment restored voting rights to felons with a prior felony conviction, except those convicted of murder or sexual offense. Previously, Florida was one of the three states, including Iowa and Kentucky, that had barred felons from voting.

 

“The battle for the hearts and minds for those 1.4 million voters has officially begun,” said Neil Volz of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to the Washington Post, pointing out that these new voters will be heavily targeted by politicians of both parties.

 

Had Amendment 4 not been approved, people convicted of felonies would have to wait five years before applying to see if they are eligible to vote. They would then have to appear in front of the governor and cabinet to appeal for those rights. There are, however, some requirements before felons are allowed to vote. They must finish their sentences, which may include paying fines, paying restitution, prison time, and parole or probation.

 

This amendment does have some critics. Governor Rick Scott and Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, are opposed to Amendment 4. The non-profit group Floridians For A Sensible Voting Rights Policy has also been a vocal critic of the amendment.  In a blog post, they argued that Amendment 4 will fail to take into account the severity of felons’ crimes.

 

“[Amendment 4] treats many other violent crimes no differently than non-violent crimes,” the group wrote on their blog, adding that the amendment “makes no distinction between one-time offenders and career criminals.”

 

“When your debt is paid, it’s paid,” Susanne Manning, a probationer with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition said in support of Amendment 4. “You should not be punished for the rest of your life.”

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Amendment 4 Restores Voting Rights to Felons