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Florida voters restore most former convicts’ voting rights

Florida voters passed an amendment on Tuesday that will restore voting rights to most of the state’s population of former convicts, affecting an estimated 1.4 million adults.

With about three quarters of precincts reporting, the measure passed with 65 percent of the vote, the Associated Press reported; the law needed the votes of 60 percent of the electorate to pass.

The effort to put the amendment on the ballot was lead by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a bipartisan group led by convicted felons that collected more than 800,000 signatures, according to the Miami Herald.

Florida was one of only a handful of states that permanently bars felons from voting unless they are granted clemency.

People who applied for clemency in Florida waited up to 10 years or more for a response, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Now felons who have completed their sentences — except those convicted of murder or sex crimes — will have their rights restored.

“Voters in Florida have endorsed a historic advance in democracy for the United States by adopting Amendment 4,” Marc Mauer, the executive director of the sentencing project said in a statement. “Florida’s lifetime ban on voting by people with a criminal record created the country’s largest disenfranchised population.”

Felon disenfranchisement is a legacy of the period after the Civil War, as states sought to prevent African Americans from voting.

Midterm election updates: Reaction and results

Democrats took the House, Republicans held the Senate, and key races around the country were still too close to call.

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