In a key ballot initiative, Florida will restore voting rights to citizens convicted of certain felonies after they have served their sentences, including prison terms, parole and probationary periods, AP has projected.
"Florida's Democrats would stand to gain some votes by extending the franchise, but the net gain of 48,000 votes is only about one-quarter of 1 percent of the more than 15 million people of voting age in Florida", the authors wrote.
The amendment garnered 64 percent of the vote.
People gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami on October 22, 2018. Bill Nelson has already called for a recount and with good reason, the vote is split nearly directly in two in the state along rural and urban lines (see the NY Times' instructive map).
The measure was one of three to be placed on the ballot by state lawmakers.
With passage of the amendment, Florida joins the ranks of dozens of American cities and states that have been relaxing restrictions on voting for former prisoners in recent years.
Voting rights will not be restored to those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses. But whether those people register to vote - and which political party they ultimately support - remains to be seen. First of all, Republicans in the senate and gubernatorial races just barely eked out a win.More news: Victims and gunman in Tallahassee yoga studio shooting identified
"I'm thrilled that the people of Florida finally brought the state out of the 19th century and into the 21st century", Simon said. "I think it is fair to the rest of the citizens of the state".
Florida voters have regularly swung between supporting Republican and Democratic presidential candidates over the past few decades.
A Suffolk University poll of 500 voters showed strong support for the amendment, according to News-Press.
The amendment was endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the Koch brothers-backed, conservative group Freedom Partners. Meanwhile, the ACLU paid more than $5 million in advertising on TV and via social media to get it passed, according to CNBC.
In February, a federal judge declared Florida's current procedure for restoring voting rights to felons to be unconstitutional.
Most states have some voting restrictions for people convicted of felonies. "Such evidence can not support the stronger claim that Trump would have lost the state in 2016 but for criminal disenfranchisement".
In 14 other states and Washington, D.C., they lose their rights only while incarcerated. "In doing so, it's going to give us the ability to generate revenue for doc stamps, the tangible tax and a whole host of other things that go along with home ownership".
Most Florida felons who have finished their sentences will be able to vote again in future elections. In any case, hopefully, this move will provide impetus to similar efforts across the country, because it's long overdue.