Florida Just Voted for a Major Voting Rights Win

The voters apparently listened, passing Amendment 4, and re-enfranchising some 1.4 million potential voters.

Its passage could reverberate beyond Florida into the 2020 presidential election due to the important role the state often plays in deciding close national elections, with a newly eligible 1.5 million voters coming into play. "That's what happens when we're able to transcend partisan politics and bickering, when we're able to transence racial anxieties and discourse, when we're able to come together as God's children".

At the beginning of 2018, Floridians for a Fair Democracy collected more than 799,000 certified petition signatures, or about 33,000 more than the group needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Before Tuesday, the only way a person with a prior felony conviction could vote was through the state's clemency system, spearheaded by the governor.

While a clemency board run by the governor exists to restore voting rights, that board under Gov. Rick Scott has been extremely biased, restoring the vote disproportionately to white and Republican ex-felons and leaving everyone else to twist in the wind. This added to Florida's already lengthy wait list as the state now has a backlog of more than 10,000 cases.

Those changes motivated Meade into action. It also had key gubernatorial and Senate races this year. According to nonprofit group, Public Citizen, this not only "repeal [s] one of the country's worst Jim Crow laws, it's also the largest expansion in voting rights since the Voting Rights Act".

Felons who have served their sentences in Florida have in recent years been forced to appeal to the governor and his Cabinet for the restoration of their voting rights.

About 10 percent of Florida's population has a felony conviction, as the Intercept reported, and people of color are overrepresented in this demographic; one in five African-Americans in Florida have a felony conviction, a legacy of the war on drugs.

All U.S. states except for ME and Vermont bar felons from voting while they are incarcerated, but most restore that right when the inmate is released or following a period of parole or probation.

Despite the law's racist history, white men make up the majority of the disenfranchised felony population in the state. "We are just ready to go forth and see greater things take place in the state of Florida".

"My dream that we can become a more understanding world is coming true", she said.