Floridians’ Broad Support for Second Chances Sends Voting Amendment to 2018 Ballot

January 23, 2018

New York, N.Y. – Florida voters will have the ability this fall to amend the state’s constitution to restore voting rights for approximately 1.5 million Americans who have paid their debt to society, but have criminal convictions in their past. The news comes after the Second Chances Florida Campaign, which includes law enforcement and clergy, announced they had gathered enough signatures for the initiative to be placed on the ballot.

“This is an encouraging step in the right direction,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Florida is one of the very few states in America where people with past convictions who are living and working in their communities don’t get the second chance they deserve to have a say in our society. This amendment is needed to move Florida more to the mainstream.”
Florida’s current rights restoration process is an extreme outlier from the rest of the country. The state is one of three that permanently denies voting rights to people with past felony convictions unless they receive clemency from the state government.
Floridians from all walks of life came together to gather approximately one million signatures of support from voters in the state. Last year, the text of the ballot initiative cleared another key hurdle when it was approved by the Florida Supreme Court, which determined that it met the state’s rules for how constitutional amendments must be written.
For more information about rights restoration policies around the country, click here.

To schedule an interview or connect with experts on the issue, contact Rebecca Autrey at the Brennan Center for Justice at  rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.