Florida voters will decide this fall whether 1.5 million felons will get their voting rights back.

Floridians for Fair Democracy, led by Desmond Meade, of Orlando, successfully gathered more than 799,000 certified signatures in their years-long petition drive, just a week before the deadline to reach the required total of about 766,000. Because of that, the state on Tuesday certified the initiative for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Criminal Justice Reform, Criminal Justice, African American Vote, Black Vote, Voter Restoration, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

If approved by 60 percent of voters, the amendment would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions after they fully complete their sentences, including parole or probation. Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would continue to be barred from voting.

Criminal Justice Reform, Criminal Justice, African American Vote, Black Vote, Voter Restoration, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

“The moment I found out, tears just started streaming down my face,” said Meade, a former addict convicted on drug and firearm charges in 2001. Though he went on to earn a law degree, he could not vote for his wife, Sheena, in her unsuccessful bid for the Florida House in 2016. “As someone directly impacted, I cannot quantify the level of emotion moving through me right now.”


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