Florida On Course To Restore Voting Rights For Felons – Your Black World

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By: Ryan Velez

In the state of Florida, more than 1.5 million people in the state of Florida cannot vote because of felony convictions, with one out of five of those people being black. This has led to a level of voter disenfranchisement not seen in any other state, but Florida has the chance to change that in next week’s midterm elections should Amendment 4 go through. The Root has more on the story.

If you take a look at campaign events for gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, you’re going to see as many “Vote Yes On Amendment 4” shirts as you will shirts for Gillum, and this is no accident, according to Angie Nixon, the organizing director for the Win Justice Campaign, an organization that aims to get infrequent voters to the polls in key swing states.

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“That can change the way a ton of elections go,” Nixon said. “That’s power, a population of a community that would normally vote for things that affect their community like better access to health care, better quality education, voting for people who would speak to those issues. If they were able to vote, I think they would. A democracy works best when everyone is involved [and] can participate in it.” In 2007, the rules were set that those convicted of felonies could regain their right to vote without clemency hearings, but this changed under Gov. Rick Scott, who is currently running for senator. Scott applied 5-year-waiting periods, and black people saw the lowest amount of restorations in almost 50 years.

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If Amendment 4 passes, Scott would not be able to use executive powers to reverse the change because it would become part of the state constitution and bypass the clemency board, said Siottis Jackson, Northern Florida state director for Second Chances Campaign.

“They can say, ‘I’m in a bad mood and I am not gonna approve this person,’” Jackson said of the clemency board. “Another problem is, will they take your case? It’s not fair.” Marissa Alexander, one of those convicted of a felony who would like to be able to vote in a potentially historic election, but can’t. “We’ve made my case, we’ve had Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and recently, Markeis McGlockton,” Alexander said. “People see this and think, not only are there injustices there, ‘These people don’t allow people convicted of felonies to vote. Where are we? In the 1920s there in Florida? Y’all need to get up to speed.’”

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Read more from The Root at: https://www.theroot.com/florida-is-on-course-to-restore-voting-rights-to-reside-1830122983

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