An initiative to restore the voting rights to 1.5 million ex-felons will be on Florida’s ballot in mid-term elections.
If passed, convicted felons with the exception of those with murder or sexual offenses, will be able to vote after fully completing sentencing, including probation or parole.
Floridians for Fair Democracy, an organization focusing on restoring rights, led the charge to acquire the 799,000 petition signatures needed to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Led by Desmond Meade, a formerly incarcerated man who also is president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), the organization along with other groups will have a press conference tomorrow on Florida’s Capital to talk about the importance of the bill passing. Florida residents who hope to get their rights restored will be speaking too.
Dr. Rolanda West, a restorative and social justice professor at Northeastern University and co-founder and director of Alternative Education Resource Institutein Chicago says that, “Restoring voting rights gives those who re-enter back into the society a sense that their humanity is being restored. It validates their existence and that their participation in society matters.”
Florida has been a hot bead of controversial voting since the 2000 presidential elections when mostly black voters were purged from voting rolls. Later, the NAACP sued the state for violation of the Voting Rights Act, but the purge commenced an updated version of racially-based voter disenfranchisement.
According to Desmond Meade, leader of Floridians for Fair Democracy who interviewed with the Orlando Sentinel, “Voting rights restoration is economically right, morally right and just the right thing to do.”
Floridians will vote November 6.