This November, Floridians will vote on a proposal to amend the state constitution. Amendment 4 is bittersweet.
If passed, many Florida residents—who have paid the price for their wrongdoing–will have their right to vote restored. Florida law bars those with felonies from voting and a large number of people, many of color, have been disenfranchised – about 1.5 million.
At the same time, Amendment 4 will bring injustice. Some individuals with felonies are NOT included, those with murder or sex offense convictions. Amendment 4 campaigners say they are “committed to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions”, yet Amendment 4 would enshrine discrimination into our state constitution.
What is the concern with allowing these individuals, who have also completed their sentences, to vote? Are they concerned that they will commit lewd sexual acts at polling places? If so, Florida offers ‘vote-by-mail’ ballots. The truth is; there is no public safety concern, or any legitimate justification for this exclusion at all… except discrimination.
Amendment 4 would add a measure to the Florida Constitution that ratifies the type of discrimination that existed against women in the 1920s and racial minorities in the sixties. It might seem like a step towards restoring rights to those disenfranchised, but it’s a huge step backwards in civil rights.
Florida Action Committee stands for the restoration of voting rights for all those with felony convictions who have completed their sentences. We urge people to vote their conscience in November.