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BREAKING: Florida overturns Jim Crow-era felon disenfranchisement law

More than 1.4 million ex-felons won the right to vote

PHOTO CREDIT: THINKPROGRESS
PHOTO CREDIT: THINKPROGRESS

Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that will restore the right to vote to roughly 1.4 million people with felony convictions.

The passage of Amendment 4 has the potential to dramatically alter the demographics of one of the nation’s most critical swing states.

Florida is one of four states that permanently bars anyone with a felony conviction from voting for life, unless they are able to petition the governor for clemency. Gov. Rick Scott (R) made that process exceedingly difficult during his two terms as governor.

Desmond Meade, the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, led the movement to get Amendment 4 on the ballot and then the grassroots effort to help it secure 60 percent approval. Meade, who has a felony conviction, was not able to vote for his wife when she ran for state office in 2016.

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“My being able to vote really gives me back my voice as a citizen, and I think that would be another surreal moment for me,” Meade told ThinkProgress earlier this year.

“The state of Florida constitutionalized and institutionalized laws to disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor people. That no matter what the demographics look like in the state, the people in power — white men — will remain that way,” Phillip Agnew, an organizer with Dream Defenders, told ThinkProgress on Tuesday before the polls closed.