Last November, Florida voters passed an amendment restoring voting rights to felons in the state who have completed their sentences. Murderers and those who committed felony sex offenses are excluded. Those eligible must not only have completed their sentence, but any resulting parole or probation. As of today, Amendment 4 is now in effect.
And it is a big deal. Florida leaders, and most significantly ex-Gov. Rick Scott, have used the disenfranchisement to their advantage for years. As an intentional result of nearly nonexistent clemency efforts under Scott, by last year more than 10 percent of Florida adults had been rendered ineligible to vote. Because of the systemic racism that pervades this nation’s criminal processes (see: drug convictions), the other (intentional) result of this mismanagement has been to disproportionately block non-white Americans from voting. And that, in the end, is why Florida voters became fed up enough to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people—whether Rick Scott and Florida conservatives wanted it or not, and by a nearly 2 to 1 vote, at that.