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What’s the Future of Voting Rights for Former Felons in Florida?

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Voting booths are set up at the Yuengling center on the campus of University of South Florida as workers prepare to open the doors to early voters on October 22nd, 2018, in Tampa, Florida.

Florida used to have the nation’s strictest disenfranchisement law for people convicted of crimes classified as felonies.

In most states, voting rights are automatically restored after a person is released from prison, or after they finish parole or probation. In comparison, under Florida‘s old system, a citizen with a felony conviction would never be allowed to vote again, unless they were granted clemency by a four-member board with a long waitlist.

Florida voters indicated their readiness to change all that in November of 2018, when they voted by a 2–1 margin to amend their state’s constitution. Known as Amendment 4, this measure backed by conservative and progressive groups alike automatically restored the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions “after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.”

The media widely reported that Amendment 4 restored voting rights to 1.4 million citizens, often likening its impact to the Voting Rights Act.

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