Felons in Florida Regained Voting Rights on Tuesday

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Posted: Jan 09, 2019 7:30 AM
Felons in Florida Regained Voting Rights on Tuesday

Source: AP Photo/Steve Karnowski

The battleground state of Florida just became even more unpredictable now that felons in the state have regained the right to vote.

Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that was approved by nearly two-thirds of Floridians, granted approximately 1.4 million convicted felons who have completed their sentences the right to vote on Tuesday. The measure excludes those convicted of murder and sex crimes.

The move expands the pool of eligible voters in Florida by roughly 1.4 million people — a significant number in a state where elections are often decided by fewer than 100,000 votes — setting off a scramble to register eligible felons. […]

Exactly which party stands to benefit the most from the new pool of eligible voters remains uncertain, according to multiple experts and activists. It’s also unclear just how many felons will actually register to vote.

Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections overwhelmingly endorsed Amendment 4, even making it a key part of their campaigns. Republicans, including Sen. Rick Scott, largely opposed it. (The Hill)

“When you have a number of potential voters as large as that, the potential for change in Florida is theoretically enormous,” Mac Stipanovich, a Republican strategist, told The Hill. “We’re a state where statewide elections, where millions of votes are cast, are decided by a few thousand votes.”

Indeed, both former Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson narrowly lost his race against Rick Scott and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) fell short against former Rep. Ron DeSantis by less than 33,000 votes.  

How the restoration of those rights will be handled remains to be seen, however. Gov. DeSantis said earlier this week that an implementing bill may be necessary by the Legislature to make the process clear. 

“There’s going to need to be guidance for that. It’s not delaying it. The people spoke on it. It’s going to be implemented, but I think it needs to be implemented the way people intended, and I don’t think that they wanted to see any sex offenders fall through the cracks,” he told reporters.