Posted by 22 October 2018
Voters in Florida may restore voting rights to over a million of their fellow state residents this Election Day. A constitutional amendment is on the ballot that would automatically allow most felons who have served their sentences to vote.
Amendment 4 will be decided on Election Day. This measure would amend the state constitution to end the current prohibition on felons voting. If passed, this amendment would require the state to automatically restore voting rights for people with a felony conviction once they complete their sentences. The only exceptions would be for felons who have been convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.
Currently, Gov. Rick Scott has put in place a system that requires those with felony convictions to wait between 5 and 7 years before they can apply to a state board for the restoration of their ability to vote. The previous governor, Charlie Crist, had a system whereby a state board would automatically restore the voting rights of those in this situation if they had paid restitution and had no pending criminal charges.
Supporters of this constitutional amendment contend that it unfairly disenfranchises state residents who have paid their debt to society. They contend that voting rights can help ex-felons integrate into society. They also argue that these individuals should have the right to participate in the political process. They point out that over a million people are covered by the current voting restriction, a situation that disproportionately affects minorities.
Those opposed to the measure argue that those who have been convicted of serious crimes should not have their right to vote restored automatically. They say that society is sending a signal about how serious these crimes are by punishing them in various ways, including taking away the ability to vote. They note there is a current process to restore the right to vote if an ex-felon wants it back and can prove that he or she has reformed.
There are three other states besides Florida that do not give residents who have been convicted of felonies the right to vote.
Do you think that ex-felons should have their right to vote restored automatically upon completion of their sentences?