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Jewish Groups Helped Florida Felons Gain The Vote

Jewish Groups Helped Florida Felons Gain The Vote

Florida started permanently barring felons from voting after the Civil War as Congress forced states to ratify the 13th and 14th Amendments guaranteeing all men the right to vote. The language of the amendment excludes those convicted of murder and serious sexual offenses, but supporters still estimate that over 1 million Floridians who have served time in prison would become newly eligible to vote.

For many residents, they say although they've paid a price for their crimes, the lingering effects actions are taking a disproportionate toll. I can't cast a vote for anything.

The passing of Amendment 4 is likely to most benefit voters of colour in Florida, where an estimated one-in-five African American voters could not vote due to their criminal records.

But Republican Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet ended automatic restoration of voting rights as one of Scott's first acts upon taking office in 2011. While some opponents of the amendment are still in favor of speeding up the process, they claim that Amendment 4 will allow former felons to regain their voting rights automatically, without any process. Whereas most states prohibit people now in prison from voting and some extend this to probation or parole, Florida was one of four states where felon status permanently removed one's voting rights. Florida also accounts for a quarter of the disenfranchised population in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project.

In February, a federal judge ruled the state's policy requiring felons to petition the government to have their voting rights restored was unconstitutional because it was lengthy, arbitrary and forced them to "kow-tow" to the whims of state politicians. Scott and other top officials met only four times a year to consider applications to restore voting rights, causing a backlog of more than 10,000 requests.

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The implications for the state's elections are enormous.

Stars like John Legend and Rihanna also expressed their support for the measure.

Shortly after Amendment 4 passed, Trump-aligned Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly defeated progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for Florida governor.

"This is proof when you speak up and work hard and fight for something you believe in, good things will happen", Stratemann said.

Others celebrated the long-awaited victory, which could shift Florida's future political climate.