Florida

A Florida Amendment Seeks to Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Cons Who've Paid Their Dues

If Amendment 4 receives 60% of the vote in November, ex-felons would see the right to vote once again.

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|||Lannis Waters/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Lannis Waters/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Floridians heading to the polls in November can expect to see a voting rights amendment on their ballots.

Amendment Four, called the Voting Restoration Amendment, seeks to restore voting rights to those in the state who have been convicted of a felony and served the full length of their sentence, including probation, parole, and the payment of restitution.

There are exceptions, however. Those convicted of murder or sex crimes would still require permission via executive clemency. If the amendment receives 60% of the vote, it will be added to the Florida Constitution.

As it currently stands, ex-felons in Florida are ineligible to vote unless they receive executive clemency.

The restoration of voting rights has been a particularly difficult sell due to the political subtext. Last year, Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie, released an ad criticizing his opponent's support for the restoration of voting rights after an ex-felon was found with child pornography. Roy Moore, the controversial Republican challenger in Alabama's 2017 senate race, made the accusation that Democrats were supporting the restoration of voting rights simply to help increase the votes against him.

The Sentencing Project has reported that the suppression of voting rights has effectively removed six million voters from the voting pool, and that black Americans are disproportionately affected. While black Americans hold diverse political opinions, Republican politicians who oppose reenfranchisement tend to assume they will vote exclusively for Democrats.

Support and disapproval transcend party lines, however. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and fellow Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin have both worked in various capacities to secure the votings rights of ex-felons. (However, prior to Bevin's work, he reversed a last minute executive order made by Democratic predecessor Steve Beshear, which had restored voting rights en masse.)

As the National Constitution Center notes, the suspension of voting rights has faced several challenges in the Supreme Court, including Richardson v. Ramirez and Hunter v. Underwood. Opponents of disenfranchisment have been unsuccessful in their attempts at court, which is why they're banking on Florida's ballot initiative process.

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77 responses to “A Florida Amendment Seeks to Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Cons Who've Paid Their Dues

  1. This would only be a good idea if a majority of felons were white.

    Since they aren’t, Reason = cucks.

  2. While black Americans hold diverse political opinions…

    …the link suggests that collectively they are a voting bloc that Democrats can take for granted.

    1. . . . which would be largely irrelevant from a libertarian perspective.

      1. But pretending that things aren’t how they actually doesn’t lead to honest debate.

    2. You’re almost there. Now the next question is, How do we solve that problem?

      I’ll give you a hint. It won’t be with “freedom”

      #ComeDownThePipeline

      1. #ComeDownThePipeline

        Phrasing… phrasing.

      2. Whether it’s a solvable problem or even a problem for my druthers is irrelevant at this point. Disenfranchisement or re-enfranchisement, it’s all leading to the same place, only at maybe differing rates of speed. And that place isn’t smaller government. No one is voting for smaller government. No one is legislating or governing for smaller government.

        1. I can’t help but wonder on specific issues of criminal reform though something could be gained.

          Though I think just as likely most of them won’t vote anyway.

    3. They keep voting democrats into office and wondering why nothing changes for them. The biggest lie ever told was when the democrat party convinced black Americans that they weren’t the party of slavery, segregation, Jim Crowe…

  3. The Sentencing Project has reported that the suppression of voting rights has effectively removed six million voters from the voting pool, and the black Americans are disproportionately affected. While black Americans hold diverse political opinions, Republican politicians who oppose reenfranchisement tend to assume they will vote exclusively for Democrats.

    What race people are and who you think they might vote for should in no way be considerations when thinking about restoring voting rights to felons or not.

    1. It only matters to the vermin that want the votes.
      PS They are all vermin.

    2. But those have been two of the most popular reasons for disenfranchising people in this country.

    3. >>>considerations when thinking about

      anything.

    4. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

      You want more liberty? Then why left black people vote?!

      Jesus, you libertarians are so stupid. Rights belong only to the deserving, not because people exist.

      Absolutely race is a consideration.

      1. I need to know if this guy is for real.

        1. I think not, but some be crazy. That’s for sure.

    5. Libertarian spoiler votes, on the other hand… Once latinos, blacks and hepcats of all persuasions and pigmentations find out that the libertarian platform calls for decriminalizing victimless plant leaves, cacti, mushrooms and whatnot, you can bank on a sudden disposition to register and vote–like Fat Freddy and the Grateful Dead suggest! I will personally lobby with the Puerto Rican and Brazilian communities to support Sentencing Project efforts to quash voter suppression.

  4. Not so fast…did any of them drink in high school? No? Just property theft/fraud/etc? Good, carry on

  5. >>> tend to assume they will vote exclusively for Democrats

    fifty fucking years of empirical data dude.

    1. 44 years of Republican efforts to use the Constitution as the Vatican’s police force… and the Nixon law paying anchormen to ignore the LP, dood? It’s a lucky thing for God’s Own Prohibitionists Lolita Lebr?n didn’t run for Congress in Florida as a pro-gun Democrat.

      1. i make no excuses for Republicans, Hank … the votes went where they went

  6. Yeah, I think voting rights should be restored to convicted felons.

    But people who have never been convicted of anything should be ineligible for public office because of an unsubstantiated allegation from 35 years ago.

    That’s what being consistent is all about.

    1. Watching you people lick the taint of Republican politicians is really kind of gross. They not you’re friends. They don’t want to do you any good. Why are you doing this for them? Are they paying you?

        1. I hope you’re doing that just to annoy me.

          1. Dunno, but I do wish you would enlist some anarchist bombers and Stalinista nationalizers-of-everything so the christianofascists at least have opposition from similar numbers of intellectual equals. For the price of a subscription every warrior-for-babies, pothead executioner and Landover Baptist Creation Scientist for leagues in all directions comes here to break wind and sermonize. It hardly seems fair for one international socialist to have to defend the arena alone against fifty hooting hyenas.

          2. Tony is going to have a rough day tomorrow.

            Kavanaugh will breeze thru the “hearing” and be confirmed.

      1. What do you mean ‘you people’?

        1. The article context makes me think he’s referring to us people who hang around outside women’s prisons to see whose dtf after release.

      2. “Watching you people lick the taint of Republican politicians is really kind of gross. They not you’re friends. They don’t want to do you any good. Why are you doing this for them? Are they paying you?”

        Interesting.

        SJWs Always Project.

    2. Reason is too chickenshit to come out and say Kavenaugh is ineligible. They are desperate to maintain this illusion that there’s no real difference between the left and the right so they have to try and be “balanced”. In today’s world, a “balanced” view is just a leftish one.

      Honestly I almost wish they would. That way, more libertarians would realize what a farce libertarianism is, and come down the pipeline to where the real freedom is.

      Remember this well. As long as the left has freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of any kind, really, the rest of us don’t.

      Remember that the next time you fantasize about awesome “individual liberty” (which is an oxymoron)

      1. Mencius Moldbug, is that you?

        1. If only

      2. Why don’t you elaborate on why you think “individual liberty” is an oxymoron, and what you think should be a general principle for when state action is justified and when it is not.

        1. Easy. It’s an oxymoron because the more prevalent it is, the more freedom of action the left has. The more freedom of action for the left, the less freedom for those who dare challenge it or are otherwise deemed undesirable.

          State action is justified in the service of continuing the construction of the Great Patriotic Utopia that our people have labored to create since 1776. In other words, it’s justified whenever it suppresses, blocks, or creates tears from the left and it’s enablers (chiefly minorities and intellectuals).

          Considering that you’re the dumbest libertarian here (and that says a lot), I’ll be surprised if you can process even have of what I wrote.

          1. Looks like lc has been hitting the bottle.

            1. You flatter me by comparing me to such an amazing patriot. I wish I could share this bottle of SoCo with him.

            2. You flatter me by comparing me to such an amazing patriot. I wish I could share this bottle of SoCo with him.

            3. I dont use socks like you have admitted to.

          2. Okay, I get it. You’re just an edgey edgelord.

            Considering that you’re the dumbest libertarian here (and that says a lot), I’ll be surprised if you can process even have of what I wrote.

            Huh.

            1. Nah, it’s the actual parody LeaveTrumpAlone-ertarian wishes he could be

              1. What’s parody?

  7. My two cents:

    1. The courts were right to rebuff the challenges; the 14th Amendment makes an explicit carve out allowing States to either allow or forbid felons from voting. I’d be opposed to any Federal action, by either the courts or Congress, to either require voting rights for felons or to forbid them. This really is a matter for each State to decide on its own.

    2. As a matter of policy, I don’t want to see voting rights extended to anyone who is legally disallowed from possessing firearms. But I’d much prefer that issue to be resolved by a blanket restoration of firearm rights to all felons who have completed their sentences. In particular, the Federal prohibition on firearm possession by those convicted of State felonies needs to be put down as the constitutional horror show that it is.

    1. The constitution allows congress to approve or modify state rules for voting.

      With that being said, once a person is no longer in state custody for a criminal offense (probation, parole, or in prison) their rights to own guns, vote, love where they want, etc should automatically be restored. There is nothing in the constitution that allows for involuntary servitude once the person is not a criminal anymore.

      1. Youre not a criminal once your punishment is complete.

  8. I have no problem with this.

    I’ll have to do more reading on this:

    As it currently stands, ex-felons in Florida are ineligible to vote unless they receive executive clemency.

    My understanding it’s a process to get your voting rights back as a felon, and I suppose this differs from state-to-state, but I know they can be restored. Even your 2nd amendment rights can be restored as a former felon– again, with an application process.

    Further, I have no issue with a change that says these rights (*clears throat* including your 2nd amendment rights) can be restored automatically at the end of your sentence. However, if anyone ever offered automatic restoration of 2nd amendment rights for felons upon completion of a sentence, I’m guessing you’d see a whole new breed of people right on board with harsh sentencing for repeat offenders.

  9. Allow me to play the libertarian. I think even people in prison, even people on death row, ought to have the right to vote. Few people are more at the mercy of elected representatives than people living in the cages they build, after all.

    1. Nobody here gives a damn about libertarianism.

      1. That goes further up the chain than you suggest.

      2. Good.

    2. Voting is a civil right, not a natural right. As such, it is right in name only; it is really just a government-granted privilege.

      So I am okay with the idea that if a person violates someone’s rights, and is incarcerated for it, then that person loses their voting privileges as a part of their punishment.

      But I am not okay with criminals who have completed their sentence still lacking their voting rights. Not because of some inherent right to vote, but due to equality before the law. If two identical people are deemed by the law to not merit incarceration at this moment in time, then both individuals should have the right to vote, regardless of whatever prior record they had.

      Also note that it has nothing to do with concepts like mercy, or “being soft on crime”, or bullshit crap like that.

      1. I don’t believe in natural rights of course, but do feel that voting is among the first rights of people in a free society, as the legitimacy of being governed is derived from the ability of people to offer their consent via voting. Nobody is “governed” as much as prisoners, and I’m sure we agree that there are plenty of people in prison who don’t deserve to be there. If extending the franchise to all prisoners results in a more liberal criminal justice system, well, good. It’s hardly on the side of too much liberty at the moment.

        1. If the gangsters that demanded protection money from your shop every week gave you a ballot with a bunch of guidos on it, and let you choose which one of them would be their leader, would that mean you consent to being shaken down every week?

        2. the legitimacy of being governed is derived from the ability of people to offer their consent via voting.

          But you also think I’m bound by some ridiculous ‘social contract’ leftist twits can amend at their whim, and my consent to that contract is implied by my continuing to breathe.

          Fuck you.

          1. That is pretty much word-for-word what you guys tell me about respecting your property rights. You just say it comes from a deity and that makes it OK to include me in your contract.

      2. If two identical people are deemed by the law to not merit incarceration at this moment in time, then both individuals should have the right to vote

        “If two identical people are deemed by the law to not merit incarceration at this moment in time, then both individuals should have the right to possess firearms”

        “If two identical people are deemed by the law to not merit incarceration at this moment in time, then both individuals should have the right to not be registered as sex offenders”

        1. I agree with both of those statements.

    3. American citizens, sure.

    4. No. The 13th amendment allows slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment of a crime where a person is duly convicted.

      You can vote once you complete ypur sentence. You also can get your gun rights back and live near schools if your a sex offender.

  10. Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Cons Who’ve Paid Their Dues

    Wait, are Democrats behind this? We need to be careful because they could be talking about Union Dues.

  11. Where did Reason dig up this idiot? The planet Zurnl? The kleptocracy saddles with victimless felony convictions the youth it is unable to kill off in communist cesspits or saracen satrapies. So that kangaroo court branding by desperate looters and geezers is alluvasudden “their dues?”

  12. Repealing the felons-can’t-vote rule in Florida, in particular, is something that’s needed. It was abuse of that rule, by the use of procedures which disenfranchised a lot of people who were not felons at all, that led to George W. Bush beating Al Gore and winning the Presidency back in 2000.

    1. “disenfranchised a lot of people who were not felons at all”

      Branding someone a convicted felon when they haven’t been convicted of a felony is illegal, and would be illegal under any given voting regime.

  13. How broad is the exception for sex crimes?

    1. Are you asking for a friend?

      1. He doesn’t really consider me a friend, per session.

  14. If it were up to me I’d restore firearm rights to almost anyone not currently incarcerated long before I’d let most felons vote, serve on a jury or run for and hold political office.

    1. Yes, self defense is a fundamental right.

  15. Will this mean more Black people voting for liberals so they can keep them on their plantation? If so, I’m against it. What do they have to lose?

  16. Wasn’t the cry at the beginning of our revolution “no taxation without representation”? So, either allow them to vote or give them tax exempt status.

  17. It’s not a right if it can be taken away.

  18. My only objection is that I don’t like the idea of second class citizens who can vote. They should be restored ALL their civil rights, instead of creating an extensive class of citizens who can vote, but have no second amendment rights, and thus have no reason not to vote for people who’d take them away from others.

    1. I actually proposed at a Repub state convention decades ago that the party platform have a proviso that stipulates that a person not be considered fully trustworthy and rehabilitated UNLESS we would trust them with a firearm. I argued that the right to vote is actually more dangerous to most of my freedoms and property than any gun.

      Unfortunately, most of my fellow party members got a stunned look in their eyes at my suggestion and their thoughts rambled off into the weeds thinking how it would look to voters after the Democrats did a slick P/R campaign against it.

  19. And by the way, ex-cons “paying their dues” should certainly include full restitution to all victims of crimes. Why should someone be voting who till hasn’t paid off the tab for the money they embezzled, the stolen car they wrecked, or all their back child support?

    1. While I understand the intentions, rights are not contingent on payment.

      The worse case scenario would be government make large groups of Americans instant criminals (all gun owners are instant felons) and then prevent voting, etc as an end-run around the Constitution.

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