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Study: Voter Restoration Would Add $365 Million to FL Economy

An economic study by the Washington Economics Group shows an increase in annual household income of $151 million for Florida residents if voters approve Amendment 4. (Pixabay)
An economic study by the Washington Economics Group shows an increase in annual household income of $151 million for Florida residents if voters approve Amendment 4. (Pixabay)
May 18, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new study says restoring the voting rights of former felons would provide a big boost to Florida's economy.

The study by the Washington Economics Group examines the financial impact of the Voter Restoration Amendment, or Amendment 4, which will appear on the November ballot. It finds that by restoring voting rights to people who've served their time as outlined in the amendment, the annual economic impact would be $365 million.

J. Antonio Villamil, a senior advisor at the Washington Economics Group, says he used the State of Florida's own corrections data for his findings.

"On a very conservative, modest basis, to be able to at least gain some employment, we found that 1,300 new jobs will be supported annually in the state," says Villamil.

Gov. Rick Scott and state Cabinet officials are challenging changes to Florida's current voting-rights restoration process, which requires waiting five to seven years before a request can be made. Scott has said people who've been in prison should have to demonstrate they can stay out of trouble before they can vote again.

The report commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice claims people who have their voting eligibility restored will have an easier time getting jobs, which increases their earning power and disposable income, in turn giving back to Florida's economy.

Villamil says the benefits are twofold.

"There are really two types of impacts,” says Villamil. “One is the decreasing recidivism, which is pretty solid evidence; and secondly, some decreases in the employment penalty, because of the fact that their civil rights in voting have been restored."

Villamil adds other studies by the Office of Offender Review and the Florida Parole Commission also show economic benefits when people regain their voting rights, because they're far less likely to re-offend and re-enter the justice system.

A poll conducted by North Star Opinion Research and EMC Research found nearly three-quarters of Florida voters support Amendment 4.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL