The First Day of Amendment 4 for Re-enfranchised Voters

Amendment 4

Tuesday, 9 January 2019, is the first day that some felons in Florida who previously had their voting rights removed can register to vote again under the effects of Amendment 4. The question is how exactly is that going to work?

Miami Herald

For all the uncertainty surrounding the launch of Amendment 4 in Florida, there’s no question that hundreds of thousands of convicted felons previously unable to participate in the state’s elections will be able to register to vote come Tuesday.
It’s what will happen after they register that remains unclear.

Despite assertions from Amendment 4 advocates that the changes to Florida’s Constitution are self-implementing, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his belief Monday that the Legislature must pass a bill to help guide the Division of Elections as it verifies the eligibility of newly registered voters. An estimated 1.2 million people are expected to regain the right to vote Tuesday as the amendment takes effect, and it’s up to the state to verify whether any of those newly registered voters are ineligible due to a disqualifying criminal offense.

For now, in order to ensure that no one is disenfranchised while the state determines how to comply with Amendment 4, the Division of Elections has stopped running new voters through its felony database. That means those who believe their rights have been restored can register to vote and likely begin participating at the very least in local elections.

This being Florida, there are more than a few concerns with implementation:

Despite assertions from Amendment 4 advocates that the changes to Florida’s Constitution are self-implementing, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his belief Monday that the Legislature must pass a bill to help guide the Division of Elections as it verifies the eligibility of newly registered voters. An estimated 1.2 million people are expected to regain the right to vote Tuesday as the amendment takes effect, and it’s up to the state to verify whether any of those newly registered voters are ineligible due to a disqualifying criminal offense.

For now, in order to ensure that no one is disenfranchised while the state determines how to comply with Amendment 4, the Division of Elections has stopped running new voters through its felony database. That means those who believe their rights have been restored can register to vote and likely begin participating at the very least in local elections.

But it also means that it could be weeks or even months before the state notifies any of those new voters if they’ve been deemed ineligible. And it would potentially compound any controversy should the Legislature take a restrictive interpretation of the amendment.

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3 thoughts on “The First Day of Amendment 4 for Re-enfranchised Voters

  1. I am generally of the opinion that this is a universal good. Now, I am also of the opinion that we should restore ALL of these peoples rights. No horrific sex offender registries, no firearms bans. If they aren’t deemed a risk to society then we shouldn’t be infringing on them in any way.

    (And yes, I think there are a lot of areas where the gov’t tramples on peoples rights, and we need to stop that also. But let’s start with something simple.)

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    • “. If they aren’t deemed a risk to society then…”

      I think the trick of it is that “risk to society” is not a binary. Some people are much more of a risk to society under some circumstances (say, being allowed to own guns or having unfettered access to small children) than others. It makes some sense to say “ok, IFFFF these conditions are imposed, you probably won’t hurt anyone” about some people – like it’s the most logical way to look at some offenders. (This is separate from whether those conditions are imposed effectively or fairly – the latter has more to do with whether they should or shouldn’t be enacted, in my view, but it’s important to understand that risk to society is a continuum when you’re looking at prison reform, people being out in society without being fully cleared, etc.)

      Voting rights is a different thing.

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  2. Rights as a social construct will be weaponized by political factions. This is the downside of a constitutional republic. ‘Social rights’ will be tortured in meaning to pick winners and losers at various points in time.

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