The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 4
Bottom Line: This is the fourth in a twelve-part series covering Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments. Amendments can be confusing enough to understand but furthering the confusion, while there were originally thirteen amendments scheduled for November’s ballot, a court ruling knocked the 8th off of the ballot. For that reason, you’ll see amendments 1 through 7 and 9 through 13. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot:
BALLOT TITLE: Voting Restoration Amendment
BALLOT SUMMARY: This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.
This is one of the most well-known proposed amendments on the ballot as its passage would restore voting rights to some convicted felons. The amendment would restore voting rights to felons who’ve completed all aspects of their sentence excluding those who’ve committed murder or any form of sexual offense.
Thoughts: This is one that really comes down to personal preference regarding whether one feels that previous felons should be allowed to vote or not. If you’re parsing details, you might question why there are carve outs for certain types of felons that shouldn’t be able to vote. I come at this question from a different perspective than you’ve likely heard articulated. The five-year recidivism rate for convicted felons is 77%. You never hear that point being discussed. Not-so coincidentally the current law has a five-year waiting period prior to felons being able to request that their rights are restored. There is a point to be made about the subjectivity in the process but neither of these approaches are ideal in my view. If this amendment allowed restoration of voting right after five years, I’d support it. It doesn’t, instead it would allow restoration to all felons, 77% of which will be future felons. For that reason, I’ll be voting no on amendment 4.