Voting rights will soon be restored to over 1 million former felons in Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday will mark an extraordinary milestone for Florida as the right to vote is restored to more than 1 million former felons in the state.

In what’s described as one of the largest enfranchisements of U.S. citizens in the past 100 years, most ex-felons in the state who have completed the terms of their sentence, including parole and probation, can register to vote either online or at their local elections office beginning Jan. 8. The measure doesn’t apply to those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. 

“It’ll be a joyous day,” a pastor who was convicted of armed robbery as a teenager told The Washington Post.

“I’m very excited to get to vote again,” enthused a Vietnam veteran who was convicted of growing marijuana.

Florida is the largest U.S. state to not automatically restore voting rights to most felons who’ve completed their sentence. But Floridians overwhelmingly voted to change this in November when they passed Amendment 4 with 64 percent of the vote. Some 1.4 million voters could be added to the state’s rolls thanks to the amendment.

There has been some confusion as to whether the amendment would take effect Tuesday after Republican lawmakers, including Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis (R), suggested it be put on hold until the state legislature reviews its language. 

Organizers behind the amendment have insisted, however, that it is self-executing and neither the governor nor lawmakers may alter it.

Related: Donna Shalala wins Florida House seat:

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Donna Shalala wins Florida House seat
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Donna Shalala wins Florida House seat
Former President Barack Obama, second from right, hugs Congressional candidate Donna Shalala, second from left, during a campaign rally, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, left, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., right, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
FILE- In this Oct. 17, 2018 file photo Florida Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala, speaks to volunteers in Coral Gables, Fla. Shalala is facing GOP candidate Maria Elvira Salazar. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Florida Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala, right, poses for a selfie before a forum on education sponsored by the Women's Fund, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Florida Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala arrives for a forum on education sponsored by the Women's Fund, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Florida Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala, center, listens during a forum on education sponsored by the Women's Fund, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Florida Democratic congressional candidates Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, left, Donna Shalala, center, and Mary Barzee Flores, right, share a laugh as they participate in a news conference against a Republican lawsuit that seeks to end protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic candidate for Congress Donna Shalala speaks with supporters during watch party on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Florida Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala attends a protest at the Miami International Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Democratic candidate for Congress Donna Shalala's wrist bands fill tables for supporters at a local restaurant Ball and Chain before Shalala speaks during watch party on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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Several elections supervisors told the Tampa Bay Times this week that Amendment 4 will go into effect at midnight on Jan. 8 and voter registration applications from anyone eligible to register to vote will be accepted.

Michael Ertel, the incoming elections chief for the state, recently told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw no reason why ex-felons who’ve completed all of the conditions of their sentences shouldn’t be able to register to vote on Tuesday.

Voting rights advocates have encouraged eligible former felons, also referred to as returning citizens, to register to vote as soon as possible. The bipartisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has encouraged potential voters to call the toll-free number 877-MY-VOTE-0 with any questions.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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