Floridians Are Showing Overwhelming Support For Amendment 4 Allowing 1.4 Million People The Right To Vote
Floridians will be voting on a amendment on whether or not to extend the right to vote to as many as 1.4 million people. Technically, it would return the right to vote to these people, all of whom have felony records and have completed their debt to society (jail, probation, fees, etc.).
Florida is one of just three states in the country that legally prohibits felons from ever getting to vote for the rest of their lives once convicted. It’s voter disenfranchisement on the largest scale in the nation and it’s perfectly legal today.
Here’s the story behind the ballot measure that could change all of that.
Florida is the swampiest of swamps.
I’m from Miami. This is the home state of Jeb Bush. The home state of the “Florida Man.” This is President Trump’s favorite place to vacation. Politicians in the Sunshine State have consistently voted for measures and pushed for measures to restrict the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, African-Americans and any other group you can think of.
Amendment 4 does not grant voting rights to murderers or felonious sex offenses.
Many organizations feel that this loophole perpetuates the dehumanization of people convicted with those charges, but however you feel about this stipulation, 1.4 million new voters gives the 2020 election a whole new outlook.
Once a convicted felon has completed their sentence, they’re still going to have trouble finding a job and housing because of their record. At the very least, they should be able to participate in their democracy.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) has made the existing process for felons to regain their voting rights next to impossible.
He has it set up so that these people have to wait as long as seven years to even apply. From there, it will take years for public offices to review the application.
According to the Florida Commission on Offender Review, of 30,000 applicants who have since applied through Scott’s process, only 3,005 have been approved. That means felons have a 10 percent chance of getting their voting rights restored, if they even have the resources to apply.
More than 27 percent of all disenfranchised felons in the U.S. live in Florida.
Not only does Florida have some of the harshest voter restriction laws in the country, but it may even have the most felons of any state in the union. That means that 10 percent of the entire state of Florida cannot vote because of their felony record.
Floridians are rallying to change that.
The Second Chances: Yes on 4 campaign has folks phone banking from home, crafting personal postcards to mail out to Florida voters and even has an option to “text bank.” You don’t even have to live in Florida to participate in this campaign.
The Second Chances Campaign doesn’t have a lot of funding, but it’s sweeping support across the state.
In a true grassroots movement, 1.1 million Floridians petitioned for Amendment 4 – the Voting Restoration Amendment – to reach the ballot. Their slogan?“Floridians from all walks of life believe in forgiveness, redemption, restoration and, ultimately, second chances.”
Meet the founder: Desmond Meade
Meade is himself a convicted felon.
Caption: “Since his release from prison in 2004, Desmond Meade graduated Summa Cum Laude from Miami-Dade College and finished law school at Florida International University. But he is still not eligible to vote. Vote #Yeson4 and help fix Florida’s broken system.”
Of the 1.4 million votes that could be restored, hundreds of thousands are Latino.
Today, 21 percent of all potential black voters in the state are unable to vote due to felony records. We don’t know the numbers for Latinos because the Florida Department of Corrections under reports Hispanics by 250 percent according to research at University of Central Florida.
The most recent poll shows 74 percent support for the Amendment to pass!
This is incredible news, but you should know that the Yes to Second Chances amendment requires 60 percent of the vote to pass. That means it has a 12 point margin between now and November 6.
Remember how everyone thought Hillary had it in the bag? Don’t trust the polls. Get your friends and family registered to vote.
Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum supports the bill.
Thankfully, Rick Scott’s term limit is up, though he’s still trying to run for Senate. There’s a lot you can do with your midterm vote this year, you guys.
He’s for gun reform, healthcare for all and is all about raising teacher’s salaries.
Puerto Rican Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, Frances Colón, has thrown in her support.
Listen to her. She sounds smart.
Caption: “Hey #Florida, VOTE Yes on Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to over 1 million who have completed their sentences. It’s about second chances, preventing recidivism by giving rights and responsibilities back, and ending voter suppression. November 6, your vote is your voice.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is also in favor of the measure.
Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles in Florida. He tried to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was denied because of his vote in favor to repeal Obamacare and his unwillingness to cosponsor the DREAM Act. A Democratic challenger to his seat, which includes Miami-Dade County, forced him to adopt more positions that favor the Latino community.
John Legend is pulling through to support voters’ rights.
Legend knocked on doors to ask Orlando residents to vote Yes on 4. According to The Tampa Bay, Legend said, “There are very few Americans that don’t have family members who have been through the system. As much as we think it’s certain neighborhoods, it’s certain folks, it’s really all of us.”
He came through for a charity concert and this is the crowd reaction:
The charity concert happened in a high school’s auditorium and everyone was clearly screaming. I mean, same.
Volunteers are knocking on doors.
If you’ve never canvassed before, I promise you’d be great. We were raised with our mothers slamming doors on us, so we have tough skin.
Students are rallying in their quads.
Literally, Ben and Jerry’s joined in on the campaign offering free ice cream to anyone who registers to vote, while promoting the Yes on 4 campaign. BRB, gotta go buy more Ben & Jerry’s.
Young Democrats are canvassing in groups to talk to their neighbors.
Folks from all different campaigns are throwing their hat in for Amendment 4 to pass. Look, it’s not like it’s some extremely progressive act. It’s just removing Florida from the worst state on voter suppression to just average.
Plus, if passed, this will be the largest voter rights win since woman’s suffrage.
So who is on the opposition? Guess.
Republicans voted NO on this amendment. It’s not even about the felons. It’s about securing power for their party. Everyone knows that anyone who has experienced a broken system votes Democrat.
Florida gave us Trump by only a few hundred votes. Imagine what a million would do.
Anything less than restoring voters’ rights is perpetuated systemic racism and subjugation of power of minorities. The laws are already stacked against us. We’re already more likely to be arrested and convicted of a crime than a white person.
This is more than just breadcrumbs. This is power to change the future.
If you have voting power in Florida, you have the power to grant that same right to people who have made mistakes and paid their dues. Put an end to Scott’s lifetime ban on voting. Every drop in the bucket is what makes a blue wave.
READ: Florida Passed Their First Gun Safety Measure In More Than 20 Years And The NRA Has Already Filed A Lawsuit
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