Midterm Elections

1.4 Million Florida Ex-Felons Might Get Back The Right To Vote

Amendment 4 seeks to reinstate voting rights to most Floridians with felony convictions.

1.4 Million Florida Ex-Felons Might Get Back The Right To Vote
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An estimated 1.4 million Florida residents with prior felony convictions might soon get the right to vote.

Amendment 4, the voter rights restoration bill, seeks to give Floridians with felony convictions back their voting rights once they finish their sentences, including any parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to convicted murderers or convicted sex offenders.

Florida has one of the strictest disenfranchisement laws in the country. Although most states don't let people vote while they're incarcerated, Florida is one of only four states to strip voting rights from convicted felons even after they've served their time. That applies to non-violent felony convictions as well. As a result, it's estimated more than 10 percent of otherwise eligible voters in Florida cannot cast ballots. That figure is double among African-Americans.

There is a process in place to reinstate voting rights for ex-felons, but it takes 5-7 years just to apply and several more years to complete — and even then, it's not guaranteed.

The proposed amendment was added to this year's ballot after more than 1 million Florida voters petitioned for its inclusion. It will need 60 percent of voters' approval to amend the state's constitution.