Polls show support for Florida ballot measure to automatically restore voting rights to felons
Public opinion polls in the run-up to Election Day show the proposal to automatically restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences has strong support from Florida voters.
The average of three polls in recent days shows 66 percent support the amendment, 25 percent oppose it and 8 percent are undecided.
Passage requires approval of 60 percent of those voting on the amendment.
However, passage isn’t certain.
One big unknown is how many people actually will vote on the issue. It’s in the midst of many other constitutional amendments, after voters make choices in marquee races for governor and U.S. Senate, and in a slew of congressional, state legislative and local government contests.
Traditionally there is a significant decrease in the number of votes cast the farther down the ballot a contest or issue is placed. Voter drop-off could determine if it passes or fails.
Proposed Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution on the midterm election ballot would restore the right to vote for felons, except murderers and sex offenders, who have completed their sentences.
Florida is one of four states that ban felons who have served their time from voting. To get back the right to vote, ex-felons must go through a clemency process.
The clemency process has gyrated dramatically in recent years. During f o r m e r G o v. C h a r l i e Crist’s four years in office from 2007 to 2011, more than 150,000 ex-felons had their right to vote restored through an expedited process, the League of Women Voters of Florida reports.
Since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, almost eight years ago, about 3,0 0 0 h av e h a d t h e i r rights restored. A federal judge has ruled that the current system is unconstitutional; a federal appeals court is considering the issue.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum supports the proposed constitutional amendment. Other supporters argue that the current system unfairly dise n f ra n c h i s e s mi n o r i t y residents who are more likely to be convicted of crimes such as drug offenses than white Floridians.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis opposes it.
He and groups that opp o s e t h e a me n d me n t , such as the Donald Trump Club i n Pa l m B e a c h County, argue that the restoration shouldn’t be automatic and should consider each case individually.
Three polls have reported survey results on the amendment in recent days:
Suffolk University/USA Today Network found 70 percent of likely voters supporting the amendment, 21 percent opposed and 8 percent undecided.
The poll surveyed 500 likely voters from Oct. 25 to 28.
University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab showed 69 percent support, 23 per- cent oppose, 8 percent don’t know.
The poll of 1,046 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 23 to 26.
New York Times Upshot/ Siena College reported 60 percent support, 31 percent were opposed and 9 percent didn’t know.
The survey of 737 voters conducted from Oct. 23 to 27.
The University of North Florida poll reported a slight dip in support for Amendment 4 since its September poll, which found 71 percent supporting and 21 opposing the amendment.
“It still remains well above the 60 percent mark required for passage. Republican support has fallen by 9 percent, most likely due to some prominent Republican c a n d i d a t e s ex p re s s i n g hesitation about the a m e n d m e n t ,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.
Different voting blocs view the issue differently: Ye s, 8 4 percent; no, 10 percent; don’t know, 6 percent.
Yes, 53 percent; no, 37 percent; don’t know, 10 percent.
Yes, 71 percent; no, 22 percent; don’t know, 7 percent.
Yes, 66 percent; n o, 2 6 p e r c e n t ; d o n ’ t know, 8 percent.
Yes, 93 percent; no, 6 percent; don’t know, 1 percent.
Yes, 61 percent; no, 27 percent; don’t know, 13 percent.
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