by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The 2018 midterms are being built up as “The most important election of our lives,” but the issue that could fundamentally change the political atmosphere in one of the most important swing states in America is barely getting any play, roughly two weeks from election day.
Amendment 4 in Florida would restore the right to vote for all felons, with an exception for those who have been convicted of murder and rape. The initiative has the support of major interest groups on both the right and the left, including the ACLU and Americans For Prosperity.
“There’s strong recognition that this is good bipartisan public policy whose time has come,” said Reggie Garcia, a clemency lawyer and author who lives in Tallahassee.
There are currently 1.7 million convicted felons in Florida, the vast majority of whom would gain the right to vote if this initiative passes. There are concerns that this could shift the political landscape in the sunshine state. Still, the issue has barely even come up in tight races for governor and Senate in the state. …
… Ballot initiatives tend to fly under the radar because most are thought of as local issues. With how competitive the state of Florida is, Amendment 4 is one that could have national implications and one that could turn the state of Florida blue for the foreseeable future. President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Florida by just over 113,000 votes in the 2016 presidential election and Scott defeated former governor Charlie Crist by fewer than 65,000 votes. A look at recent statewide elections in Florida makes it clear that restoring voting rights to 1.7 million convicted felons could fundamentally alter the outcomes of battleground elections.