TALLAHASSEE, FL - The House Judiciary Committee today voted to pass HB 7089, a bill that undermines Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment that restores the eligibility to vote to Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all of the terms of their sentence. The amendment, which excludes those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, received votes from 5.1 million Floridians and passed in November.
The bill places restrictions on the eligibility to vote for individuals whose voting rights were restored after Amendment 4 went into effect in January. This bill alters the amendment’s self-executing language by extending far beyond what voters intended when they passed Amendment 4.
The companion Senate version of this bill, SB 7086, passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, despite these constitutional concerns.
Micah Kubic, executive director, ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:
“The passage of Amendment 4 marked the single greatest victory for voting rights in the U.S. since 1965. With more than 5 million votes from across the state, it marked that Floridians believe in second chances and in the rightful access to the ballot box. Now state lawmakers are trying to thwart that resounding decision.
“These attempts by the Florida Legislature amount to one thing — trying to undo what Floridians did when they passed Amendment 4 and fixed what state lawmakers refused to do for decades. The legislature refused to fix the broken system that existed in Florida and disenfranchised returning citizens for voting for life. Now, instead of getting out of the way, they have turned to legislating away voting rights that were just restored.
“Legislative attempts like these ultimately affect voter disillusionment and raise suspicion in the voting process in general. Florida voters intended to pass and approve Amendment 4. Now, these bills will undo what Florida voters clearly intended when they passed Amendment 4 in November. We call on all of our state lawmakers to oppose these restrictive bills, protect Amendment 4, and stop suppressing voting rights in our state.”