Vote ‘yes’ on Amend­ment 4

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Opinion -

Vot­ing-rights amend­ment de­serves re­sound­ing “Yes”

Amend­ment 4 de­serves a re­sound­ing “Yes” as it re­stores the el­i­gi­bil­ity to vote to those con­victed of felonies who com­plete in­car­cer­a­tion and pa­role, and pay fines and resti­tu­tion.

It was put on the bal­lot by the col­lec­tion of 1.1 mil­lion sig­na­tures on pe­ti­tions from Florid­i­ans — cer­tainly par­tic­i­pa­tory democ­racy at its best.

When a debt is paid, it is paid. The Florida jus­tice sys­tem says that these re­turn­ing cit­i­zens have met all re­quire­ments. The amend­ment ex­cludes those con­victed of mur­der and felony sex­ual of­fenses.

The Florida sys­tem for restor­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity to vote is bro­ken.

Florida is one of only four states (with Ken­tucky, Iowa, and Vir­ginia) that does not re­store vot­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity af­ter a per­son has com­pleted in­car­cer­a­tion and pa­role, and paid fines and resti­tu­tion.

Cur­rently Florid­i­ans who have com­pleted all steps to re­turn to so­ci­ety have to wait five to seven years be­fore they can even ap­ply to vote. And the clemency board only hears 400 to 500 pe­ti­tions to vote each year.

Pass­ing Amend­ment 4 will re­store vot­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity to 1.4 mil­lion Florid­i­ans.

We should take this de­ci­sion out of pol­i­tics by amend­ing the Florida Con­sti­tu­tion.

This is a non­par­ti­san is­sue that mat­ters to ev­ery­one, in all walks of life. Most of us be­lieve in giv­ing sec­ond chances. Sec­ond chances are as im­por­tant to our fam­ily mem­bers, friends and neigh­bors as they are to these re­turn­ing cit­i­zens. Mar­garet Moore Braden­ton

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