BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Should convicted felons who have completed their sentence and served their time get their voting rights restored?
Amendment 4, also known as the 'Voting Restoration Amendment' would do just that. Last week the amendment was officially approved to appear on the November ballot. While this may seem like a step closer to the bill being passed, a super majority is necessary to make the voting issue happen.
Florida is 1 of 4 states that do not have automatic restoration of rights upon being released from prison, but all that could possibly change.
"Amendment four is a provision that will be on everybody's ballot in November. It would, if passed with 60% of the vote would help for felons to automatically have their voting rights restored," said Attorney at Law, Al Sauline.
Currently more than 1.5 million Floridians cannot vote in elections because they have been convicted of a felony offense. If 60 percent of voters, vote yes to restore a felons right to vote, those with felony charges-- excluding murders and individuals with felony sexual offenses will be able to vote after completing their sentences. If approved, they once again become a citizen with a voice.
"It makes it feel as if they are apart of the community. they have their voice being heard once again in our democracy whether it be local elections, or the office of the presidency," said Sauline. The process of re-registering would be simple.
"If they've been removed or they've removed themselves, they would just come back and begin the process again just like any other person registering for the first time," said Supervisor of Elections, Mark Andersen.
After asking people in Bay County what they think about the potential of a felon's rights being restored-- all had similar responses saying "You know I think that some felons should be able to vote," and "They should have their right to vote just like anybody else," said a Bay County resident.
Another even going as far to compare it to the policies of other states. "If Vermont can have people in jail vote, then why shouldn't we be able to? If you're a citizen of the United States, you're a citizen."
A yes would restore rights, and a no keep things the way they are. The amendment needs at least a 60% majority to pass in November.
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