Amendment 4

Voting Restoration Amendment

Amendment 4, better known as the voter rights restoration act, is one you’ve probably heard a lot about. If passed, it would give convicted felons in Florida the right to vote once they’ve completed their sentences (with the exception of those convicted of murder or sexual offenses). Felonies include not just offenses like murder and sexual assault, but also tax evasion, vandalism of federal property, computer hacking, and check fraud.

Florida has more disenfranchised felons than any other state in the U.S., and 1.5 million people would gain the right to vote if it’s passed. If passed, it could enfranchise more people at once than any move since the women’s suffrage movement, according to the New York Times.

It was put on the ballot via petition by voters. The campaign had to collect more than 766,000 signatures to put it there.

Here’s how the amendment reads:

This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis. The precise effect of this amendment on state and local government costs cannot be determined, but the operation of current voter registration laws, combined with an increased number of felons registering to vote, will produce higher overall costs relative to the processes in place today. The impact, if any, on state and local government revenues cannot be determined. The fiscal impact of any future legislation that implements a different process cannot be reasonably determined.

Supporters of Amendment 4 have dubbed those 1.5 million people “returning citizens,” and argue that stripping felons of the right to vote permanently bars them from one of their basic rights as a U.S. citizen, as well as a true second chance.

Opponents of Amendment 4 argue that a felony is too serious a charge to allow most convicted felons to automatically regain the right to vote.

If you vote yes, you are voting to allow convicted felons to regain their right to vote when they complete their sentence, with the exceptions detailed above.  

If you vote no, you are voting to maintain the status quo, which only allows a limited number of convicted felons to appeal to regain their right to vote in front of a clemency board, which then rules on their case.