Florida voters restore most former convicts' voting rights

For Yraida Guanipa, an activist released from prison more than 10 years ago who currently defends other ex-convicts' human rights the change

For Yraida Guanipa, an activist released from prison more than 10 years ago who currently defends other ex-convicts' human rights the change"is a light at the end of the tunnel

At least 60 percent of voters had to approve it for it to become a law.

In a "huge and hard fought victory" that writer and activist Shaun King called "one of the most important of our lifetime", Florida on Tuesday overwhelming approved Amendment 4, which restores voting rights for 1.4 million state residents with past felony convictions who were barred from participating in elections even after completing their sentences. It would not apply to felons convicted of murder and sex offenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates 1.4 million convicted felons will now have the ability to vote in Florida.

Supporters of the amendment said the current system was too strict.

The ballot measure, which had been backed financially by Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is aimed at limiting gambling's expansion in the state.

The 37-member commission met for months before putting seven of the amendments on the ballot.

In all, 155 statewide initiatives were on the ballot across the country.

The Constitution Revision Commission took heat for combining unrelated topics in proposed amendments, with some of the amendments drawing legal challenges. And by passing Amendment 9, Floridians voted to ban both indoor vaping and offshore oil and gas drilling. The measure was touted as an environmental amendment to ensure clean air and clean water.

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Prior to Tuesday evening, three states-Iowa and Kentucky in addition to Florida-fully and permanently disenfranchised former felons, according to the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice. The decision will effectively end all dog racing by 2020.

While the campaign had wide bipartisan support and little-organized opposition, some candidates stated they did not support the measure.

"Remember, nothing is impossible when you have God on your side", said Meade's voicemail, who could not be reached on Wednesday morning but clearly sees this work as a calling. The committee has spent more than $31 million on the effort, using voters' distrust and special interests to build support for the ballot question.

While the amendment, in theory, gives voters the power to expand gambling, it could actually make the process more hard.

Detractors argued the amendment didn't differentiate between people who committed violent crimes and those who committed non-violent crimes.

"We are on the cusp of history here in Florida", said Delaitre Hollinger, president of the NAACP's Tallahassee branch.

"It makes no sense to the average voter why they were put together", retired University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus said, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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