Florida OKs Voting Rights for Some Felons: What Happens Next

Florida residents to vote on felon voter rights initiative

In a "huge and hard fought victory" that writer and activist Shaun King called "one of the most important of our lifetime", Florida on Tuesday overwhelming approved Amendment 4, which restores voting rights for 1.4 million state residents with past felony convictions who were barred from participating in elections even after completing their sentences.

The voting restoration amendment excludes those convicted of murder or sex crimes. The amendment needs to be approved by 60 percent of voters to become law.

Prior to Tuesday evening, three states-Iowa and Kentucky in addition to Florida-fully and permanently disenfranchised former felons, according to the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice. Whereas most states prohibit people now in prison from voting and some extend this to probation or parole, Florida was one of four states where felon status permanently removed one's voting rights. Although they make up only 16 percent of the population according to the 2010 Census, black people make up 43 percent of Florida's inmate population, according to the latest yearly report from the Florida Department of Corrections.

Scott was running for senator in the state this election cycle due to being term-limited out of office. Only 3,000 cases have made it to Scott in eight years.

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On its own, the passage of Amendment 4 is a positive step forward; it restores basic civil rights to over 1 million people, and spares them the indignity of an invasive, complicated hearing process.

Florida has not taken advantage of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially legalizes betting on sports teams. It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet.

Several states, including New Jersey and DE, have already entered the sports betting market since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the controversial pastime last May.

Tallahassee mayor and Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum waves at supporters after casting his ballot with his children on November 6, 2018 in Tallahassee, Fla.

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The measure even garnered celebrity attention - pop star Rihanna urged Floridans to approve the measure.

On Tuesday night, voters chose to keep the exclusive right to decide to authorize expansions of casino gambling in Florida. It also had key gubernatorial and Senate races this year.

Activits took to social media after the win to laud the voters, and the amendment.

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