ORLANDO, Fla. – Amendment 4 passed with 64 percent of the vote to give voting rights back to felons who have completed their sentence, except those who were convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
Former felons have had to wait at least five years before asking the Florida Clemency Board, which is made up by the governor and the Cabinet, to restore their voting rights. This amendment pushed to automatically restore voting rights if they completed their parole and probation periods.
The Associated Press reports that supporters said the state's current system was too onerous. It required felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request with the governor and Cabinet. About 1.5 million people are affected. Nearly all states allow felons to vote after completing their sentences.
Amendment 4 has garnered support from Floridians for Fair Democracy with more than 799,000 signatures on a petition to place the amendment on the ballot and even the ice cream company Ben & Jerry's. The conservative group backed by Koch Brothers, Freedom Partners, has also thrown its support behind the amendment.
Singer-songwriter John Legend visited Evans High School in Orlando early last month to encourage voter support.
Opposition to the controversial amendment resulted from the group Floridians For A Sensible Voting Rights Policy because the amendment does not differentiate between the felons who committed a violent crime and those who did not.
Opponents argued that the measure treats all felons alike and takes away the ability to judge each individually, the AP reports.
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