Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, for example, was talking about the issue as long ago as four years ago and at one point was the co-sponsor of a bill that would restore voting rights to a large category of such people nationwide, although it would only apply to Federal elections since Congress can not dictate how states handle their own election process. Voters just passed Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that restores voting rights to nonviolent felons. More than one in five African-Americans in Florida can't vote because of a felony conviction, according to estimates by the Sentencing Project. Studying that group, the researchers found that only a small percentage turned out to the polls for elections - just 16 percent of black ex-felons and 12 percent of nonblack ex-felons. "And it really is something that impacts all communities and all walks of life".
For Yraida Guanipa, who was released from prison more than a decade ago and could not then vote, the change "is a light at the end of the tunnel".
Felons who have completed their sentence, including parole and probation, will see their rights to vote returned by state constitutional amendment, the Hill reported.
"This is transformative in Florida", Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida tells TIME. "You have to focus on not how many votes we got, but the breadth of support". But some activists criticized the amendment for excluding individuals convicted of murder or sex crimes.
Amendment 2 was passed by a margin of 66 percent-34 percent as of 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Supporters said the state's current system was too onerous.
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Only in Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa are former felons barred from voting even after they have completed their sentences.
"I think that's going to be the next battle that takes place", said voting rights expert Darryl Paulson. "If disenfranchised felons in Florida had been permitted to vote, Democrat Gore would certainly have carried the state, and the election". A further eight states provide for partial disenfranchisement.
John Sowinski, president of Voters In Charge, the political committee behind the proposal, said the amendment puts people - not politicians and lobbyists - in control of casino gambling.
Election Day 2018 is behind us, but it assured that at least one thing will be very different in 2020: the number of eligible voters in Florida.
The people of Florida will now have the final say on deciding if sports gambling will be made legal, where a minimum of 60% of votes will need to be attained. She was convicted of a felony for drug possession in 2012 and has not been able to cast a ballot.
"Western and northeastern states have led the way on legalizing marijuana, but the victory in MI powerfully demonstrates the national reach of this movement", said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who questioned how long the federal government could resist the legalization wave.
All U.S. states except for ME and Vermont bar felons from voting while they are incarcerated, but most restore that right when the inmate is released or following a period of parole or probation.