Voting in Florida

In the midterm elections, Florida voters passed an amendment re-enfranchising former felons with an overwhelming majority. Today, they can finally register.

The amendment to re-enfranchise former felons who have paid their debt to society received 64.5% approval from current voters, enabling as many as 1.4 million Floridians to regain their right to vote.

This widely bipartisan issue faced derailment at the hands of Florida’s new Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and the state’s conservative legislature, who insisted that another bill needed to be passed in order to officially implement the amendment.

“What we’ve seen in Florida was love prevailing. Just that simple. Love prevailed. We had over 5 million votes for Amendment 4. And those were votes of love, people voting for their loved ones and friends who made mistakes and paid their debt and wanted to move on with their lives. And so, we’re very excited, and we think that this victory can serve as a bright spot for this country and can serve as a launching pad for how we conduct business and how we can move issues along the lines of humanity and transcend above the partisan politics, transcend above the racial anxieties.”  — Desmond Meade, president of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

Florida has a notorious reputation for its policy of felon disenfranchisement, which has resulted in one in every 10 Floridians, and one in every five African Americans living in the state, losing their right to vote.

The Orlando Sentinel took time to speak with a handful of “returning citizens,” as the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition calls re-enfranchised ex-felons, to share their thoughts on the issue:

“To be honest, even though I am a returning citizen, this has more to do with my sons, and my brother. My brother passed away from cancer. He would have been overjoyed. He was a returning citizen too. He just didn’t get to see it.”  — Stefanie Anglin, 49

“I’m happy to see state attorneys all across the state actually approach [dealing with] re-entry at the point of sentencing. Ninety-five percent of people actually sent to prison come back into the community. Show them what the doors of re-entry look like.”  — David Ayala, 45

“This was a vote for people. When people walked into the voting booth, they weren’t voting for politics or even policy. They were voting for friends, for family members, for neighbors.”  — Neil Volz, 49

“Sometimes you’d come across people that can vote and they they’re not going to vote. And I’d be like, ‘God, I wish I had the opportunity to actually let voice be heard.’”  — Marquis McKenzie, 28

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