The United States Constitution grants every citizen the right to vote. While this right is inherently bestowed upon every citizen, there are many who have been stripped of this right.
Ncsl.org reports that over the past few decades it has become more and more common throughout the country to strip felons of their right to vote.
According to ProCon.org, Florida currently sits at No. 1 with the highest number of disenfranchised voters.
These disenfranchised voters include citizens who have been convicted of violent and non-violent crimes, who are currently serving parole, and who have completed all forms for sentencing with a felony record.
Tallahassee resident Rod James, an ex-convict, has personally experienced the challenges associated with a felony record.
“Jobs, it’s tough. They look at that and discriminate on well-paying jobs. I haven’t even been able to get back in school. My felonies are being brought up.”
James, 39, previously attended Florida A&M University, where he majored in civil and mechanical engineering. After his last felony arrest, where he faced 10 drug related felony charges, the university has been slow about re-admitting him.
“All I did was sell some weed,” said James. “They took my voting rights and now I can’t even vote to make weed legal. It’s a loophole game.”
There are approximately 1,686,318 people in Florida who are ineligible to vote, according to ProCon.org. It seems that this could change.
In 2018, the Voting Rights Restorations for Felons Initiative was certified for the ballot.
On Nov. 6, Florida residents can vote on Amendment 4 and reinstate the right to vote for many of the felons with non-violent convictions.
Residents like Sunny Anderson are excited about the amendment.
Anderson, 38, is also unable to vote due to his status as a felon.
“When I was 16 I caught my first felony charge. I was caught with a quarter pound of weed. I’ve never been able to vote. When you’re young, you don’t really think about the stuff you could lose when you’re out there messing around, or what it means,” said Anderson.
“I’ll be telling everyone to vote for the amendment because that’s for me,” said Anderson.
Amendment 4 will be on the 2018 November ballot and if it passes, not only will voting rights be restored for thousands of citizens, but Florida will have made history.