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21 April 2017, 02:31 | Darnell Patrick
The Florida Supreme Court has approved language for a voting restoration ballot initiative.
The amendment allows felons to get their voting rights restored once they finish their sentences, including probation or parole.
The group proposing the ballot initiative still needs to gather almost 700,000 voter signatures.
The Florida Supreme Court does not pass judgment on subject matter, but reviews proposed amendments only to make sure they cover only one subject and that their ballot title and summary aren't misleading. Individuals who committed murder or sexual offenses would still permanently lose their right to vote. With the state Supreme Court's approval, activists will now have to work toward getting almost 700,000 signatures on a petition in order to get the measure on the 2018 ballot.
When Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, he largely reversed the policy to restore felon voting rights instituted under former Gov. Charlie Crist.
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Attorney General Pam Bondi and other supporters of the process have argued that the restoration of voting rights for felons should be earned and only after a sufficient waiting period.
Democrats had filed proposals in the state legislature to expand voting rights to ex-felons. "Now the work of gathering signatures and mounting a successful campaign to change the Florida Constitution begins in earnest". "This amendment modernizes Florida's criminal justice rules by bringing our state in line with others nationwide". "The Supreme Court's decision to allow the Voting Restoration Amendment to move forward marks a key milestone on our path to a stronger democracy and a fairer Florida ..."
If the amendment is approved in November 2018, it would give voters the "exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling" in the state. That includes the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade.
"First, the ballot title and summary clearly and unambiguously inform the voters of the chief objective of the proposed amendment", Lewis wrote. "However, as the sponsor points out, the opponents' arguments concern the ambiguous legal effect of the amendment's text rather than the clarity of the ballot title and summary".
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