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Florida's 1.5 million former felons just won the right to vote

Bipartisan support for Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to felons who have served their time.

by Tess Owen
Nov 7 2018, 2:35am

More than 1.5 million Floridians just got back their right to vote.

On Tuesday, the Sunshine State voted in favor of Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to former felons who’ve served their sentences. The amendment required 60 percent of the vote to become law.

Tuesday’s decision could have a seismic effect on Florida elections in future, and potentially turn the swing state blue. About 10 percent of the state’s adult population are believed to be ex-offenders. Additionally, a significant percentage of that bloc – about half, according to the Prison Policy Initiative – are black, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

The amendment doesn’t apply to people convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses, who will remain barred from the voting booth. However, they can apply to have their voting rights restored, and their requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the governor and cabinet.

Read: Florida could restore voting rights to more than a million convicted felons

Florida had one of the harshest felon disenfranchisement laws in the country. Former felons had to wait five years after completing their sentence before they were allowed to apply to have their rights restored, which were considered on an individual basis.

Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that permanently disenfranchise former felons. A patchwork of laws dictate when and how ex-felons can restore their voting rights in other states.

Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow felons to vote from inside prison while serving their sentence.

Read: Felon vote could swing Roy Moore's Alabama Senate race

Cover: Voters fill out their ballots as they cast their vote at a polling station setup in Legion Park for the mid-term election on November 06, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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