Signature gatherers throughout Florida are working hard to gather enough signatures to put the Voting Rights Restoration Initiative on the 2018 ballot, which would restore voting rights to many Floridians.
Campaigners are attempting to gather 1.1 million statewide signatures before their deadline on February 1st. In order to get them to the state’s capital, Tallahassee, by the start of February, signatures need to be submitted to each county for approval by the end of the year.
As of right now, organizers from the grassroots group Floridians for a Fair Democracy, believe to be at 1 million signatures, and are working tirelessly for one last big push.
Florida is currently a state that makes it nearly impossible for felons to regain their right to vote after they have completed their sentence. The individual must petition the governor for an individual restoration of rights, which is rarely granted. If the Voting Rights Restoration Initiative is put on the ballot and passes, however, it will automatically restore voting rights to a majority of the felons who have completed their sentences.
Unfortunately, these restrictions were created post-Civil War to prevent African Americans and poor people from voting. It is believed that over 1.5 million Floridians, which is about 10% of the state’s adult population, are voteless. While some of those citizens are still carrying out their sentences, many have already exited the criminal-justice system but remain unable to vote.
Hopefully, come November 2018, Florida will put an end to mass disenfranchisement and will restore voting rights to the thousands of citizens who have earned their right to vote.