There is an incessant buzz in the air about the midterm elections. And rightfully so, as 80,000 people will be voted, or re-elected, into government positions on November 6; that’s twice the amount of people who were elected during the 2016 presidential elections.
As registration deadlines are closing in, many citizens may assume that once they’ve registered to vote, they’re all set until November 6, when they’ll head to their nearby polling place and cast their vote. That would be one of the biggest myths causing voters to unintentionally miss this election. Registering to vote is only half the battle.
The other half involves actually getting to the polls, having the proper form of identification, ensuring that your registration has not been completely purged, and then having done the critical assessments to cast a vote for the candidate who will truly protect the interests of their constituents, and perhaps, even the interests of people who have been disenfranchised in the past.
For voters in Florida, the midterm election presents an opportunity for them to do all of the above. During this midterm election, Floridians will find on an option to vote “yes” or “no” for the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” also called Amendment 4. This Amendment would automatically restore voting rights to felons (not including murderers and sex offenders) who have served prison time, completed parole or probation, and paid any restitution. Essentially, those who come out to vote in Florida this election have the option to “pay it forward” and restore the rights of 1.4 million Florida residents with previous records who were once barred from voting.
According to Ballotpedia, “a ‘yes’ vote supports this amendment to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation.” A ‘no’ vote, of course, would do the opposite, upholding the ban on the aforementioned citizens’ ability to vote. Florida must see a 60 percent vote in favor of the amendment in order for it to be approved.
This Amendment was added to the ballot after Floridians for a Fair Democracy (also known as Second Chance Florida) raised funding from organizations like the ACLU to fight for this Amendment and gathered more than 1.1 million signatures on a petition to get the Amendment on the November ballot.
According to the organization, “Floridians from all walks of life believe in forgiveness, redemption, restoration and, ultimately, second chances.”
Currently, former felons have a singular pathway to restore their vote: they must wait five to seven years, depending on the type of offense, after the completion of their sentences to request that the state board restore their voting and other civil rights.
Florida is one of only four states, including Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia, where former felons lose their ability to vote in state elections.
To learn more about the critical issues on your state’s ballot this November, consider checking out any of these resources: