The League of Women Voters Florida (LWVFL) announced that beginning on January 8, 2019, volunteers will help millions of disenfranchised Floridians become registered voters. Amendment 4, which passed by almost 64% of the electorate in November, granted the right to vote to former felons in Florida (except murderers or felony sex offenders) who have completed their sentences.
“The League is thrilled to be working with our coalition partners to guard against any delays in implementation of the will of the people,” said Patricia Brigham, LWVFL President. “The League has long stood for the voting rights of the excluded and we are overjoyed that we can work with returning citizens just as early League members worked to first enfranchise and then educate and increase women voters.” League 1st VP and Amendment 4 Action Chair Cecile Scoon stated that “Amendment 4 is self-executing. No additional legislation is needed to implement Amendment 4 and any attempt to delay the implementation would be an affront to the resounding demand from voters to ‘let the people vote!’”
Returning citizens who know that they qualify for reinstatement can register to vote; those who are not certain should verify their status before registering. If you or a loved one is planning to register to vote, the FAQs below may be helpful. If you want to get involved in voter registration efforts, more information is available below.
News & Opinions on FL Legislative Activities concerning Amendment 4
- May 14, 2019: Changes to returning citizen voting rights will affect African American voters the most
- May 9, 2019: Desmond Meade says new law slows, but doesn’t stop, ex-felons from voting
- April 16, 2019: Testimony on proposed bills for voting rights restoration
- April 4, 2019: What does it mean to finish a prison sentence?
- March 27, 2019: What was the voters’ intent in passing Amendment 4?
- When does Amendment 4 go into effect? The amendment goes into effect on January 8th.
- If I am a Returning Citizen who has completed all portions of my sentence, can I register to vote on January 8th? Yes
- What organization can I contact if I need help getting registered?
- Does the legislature need to write rules to implement Amendment 4? No. The legislature does not need to write enabling legislation. The amendment is self-executing. The State has conceded this point in its ruling in the Hand v. Scottcase. This means that, unlike what we may have seen after Fair Districts or Medical Marijuana was passed, the legislature does not have to do anything to implement Amendment 4.
- What is the legislature’s role in Amendment 4 implementation? The legislature is responsible for oversight and funding of the government agencies responsible for administering the implementation of Amendment 4.
- Do Returning Citizens register through the normal voter registration process? Yes. The existing voter registration form is adequate and sufficient to immediately register individuals impacted by Amendment 4. Question #2 of that form asks individuals to “affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored.” Individuals can check this box in the same way that they affirm they are U.S. Citizens (see Question #1 on the State’s Voter Registration Application Form). Individuals may also register via the Florida Online Voter Registration System.
- Do Returning Citizens need to bring proof of a completed sentence before registering? No. The responsibility of the citizen is to honestly affirm that, by completing the terms of their sentence, their voting rights have been restored – because, if they have completed their sentence, the voters’ rights have been restored.
- What does it mean to complete all portions of my sentence? We believe that “completion of all terms of sentence” includes any period of incarceration, probation, parole and financial obligations written by the judge only. These financial obligations may include restitution, fines and fees written by a judge and NOT any administrative fines, fees, costs imposed by an administrative agency like the Department of Corrections or other agency. That said, fees not specifically written by the judge in a sentence are therefore not necessary for ‘completion of sentence’ and thus, do not need to be paid before an individual may register.
- Where can I find more information online about whether I’ve completed the terms of my sentence?
For more information, you can contact a number of state organizations including:
Frequently Asked Questions about Amendment 4 implementation:
For guidelines on how third party organizations can register voters: Third-Party-Regis-guidelines.pdf
To download the LWVFL Powerpoint Presentation on how League partners can register voters, click here.