Florida Passes Amendment Restoring Voting Rights to 1.5 Million Felons

If passed, Amendment 4 will guarantee automatic voting rights for felons after they complete their sentences, reports The Tampa Bay Times.

Other states, like Florida before Tuesday, banned them from ever voting once they had a felony conviction, even years after their full sentence had been completed.

More than a million convicted felons in Florida had their voting rights restored Tuesday.

"As expected, Floridians have affirmed that they are opposed to offshore oil drilling and furthermore believe that they have the right to breath clean air when in enclosed workspaces", said Constitution Revision Commission member Lisa Carlton, a former state senator, said in a statement to The News Service of Florida.

Virginia, Iowa and Kentucky remain the only states with permanent disenfranchisement policies on the books.

The goal is "giving citizens, not politicians, a greater voice in the drawing of their voting district lines", said Sam Mar of the Action Now Initiative, which provided more than $7 million in support of the measures. Meade crashed banquets, meetings and political parties to sway the hearts of voters to give what he calls "returning citizens" a second chance to participate in democracy.

Florida was one of only a handful of states that permanently bars felons from voting unless they are granted clemency.

Scott has said, "If you are a convicted felon part of what you did is you lose your rights and there ought to be a process to get those rights back". Thanks to Florida voters, more than 1 million Floridians are now eligible to vote in future elections.

While liberal-leaning groups succeeded in getting some of their favored policy proposals on the ballot in Republican-controlled states, the partisan pattern was reversed in Democratic-leaning OR and MA. A disproportionate share of those arrested and incarcerated in Florida are minorities, particularly African Americans.

What happens to a person convicted of a felony varies from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meade gathered around 766,200 verified signatures and led the effort to get Amendment 4 on the ballot.

"For too long, Florida has been an extreme outlier", concluded ACLU of Florida executive director Howard Simon.

Per usual, the key races in Florida are nail biters.

"To work in society, to contribute...and have things that affect you that pass and not be able to have a say, and now to be able to say collectively that our voice will count is a huge psychological [change]", Alexander tells TIME.

Vanessa Coleman