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Listening Tour to Register Florida’s Newly Enfranchised Voters

Florida overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 4 on giving previously disenfranchised persons with felonies the opportunity to vote. (TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay)
Florida overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 4 on giving previously disenfranchised persons with felonies the opportunity to vote. (TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay)
November 19, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A statewide listening tour is under way after more than 64 percent of Florida voters chose to restore voting rights to individuals with prior felonies.

The passage of Amendment 4 returns full citizenship rights to 1.4 million ex-felons who have completed their sentences for past crimes - with the exception of those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition led the charge to see the amendment passed.

Speaking on The Rotunda Podcast, coalition president Desmon Meade said after the excitement of seeing the amendment pass, they now are circling back for deeper conversations with individuals impacted.

"Number one, just to get their reactions; number two, get their hopes and find out more about what are these issues that they feel they would need to address in order to improve their quality of life,” Meade said; “and with the overall goal of making our communities safer."

With 15 local chapters throughout Florida, the coalition is the only statewide organization run by individuals with former convictions that works to advocate on behalf of those with past felonies and their families. To learn more about the listening tour or to take a survey about Amendment 4, visit

The amendment will have the biggest impact on the African-American population, who are arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than any other group. Meade said the amendment's passage shows what the country and the state can do when they come together for the benefit of humanity.

"When we come together along the lines of love, forgiveness and redemption,” he said; “because when we looked at just the data, what we saw was that we got over 5.1 million votes. That's over a million more votes than any candidate that was on the ballot in Florida."

This new set of voters is expected to play a significant role in the upcoming 2020 elections. But for now, the plan is to listen to those impacted and get them registered to vote. Other organizations such as the ACLU and the Advancement Project are stepping in to assist with online registrations and tracking potential voters throughout the state.

This interview was used on The Rotunda Podcast, where a longer version is available.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL