Ex-senators pitch voting rights amendment - Florida Politics

Ex-senators pitch voting rights amendment

Former state Senate Democratic leaders Arthenia Joyner and Chris Smith have filed a measure with the Constitution Revision Commission that would restore voting rights to felons who have served their time and completed any other post-prison requirements.

Joyner, a Tampa lawyer, and Smith, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, are members of the commission, which can place state constitutional amendments directly on the 2018 general-election ballot.

Under the proposal, voting rights for convicted felons would be restored “upon completion of all terms of a sentence including parole and probation.”

Felons convicted of murder or a sexual offense would be excluded from the automatic voter restoration under the amendment.

“As we’ve seen in numerous hearings throughout the state, Floridians strongly support allowing fellow citizens who have completed their sentences, paid every fine, and done everything required of them, to rejoin society and regain their right to vote,” Smith said.

Joyner said the current clemency process takes five to seven years and is arbitrary and biased. “It disproportionately impacts lower- and middle-income Floridians – many of them sentenced for non-violent crimes – and continues to segregate them from fully participating in the democracy we celebrate. This needs to end,” she said.

The measure will have to win support from at least 22 members of the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission to be placed on next year’s ballot. It would require support from 60 percent of the voters to become effective.

In a separate process, voting rights groups are advancing a similar initiative, although it will have to gain more than 700,000 valid signatures by early next year to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.


  1. I strongly suggest that folks continue to collect signed Voting Restoration Amendment ballot initiative petitions from registered Florida voters because the more petitions signed by state voters, the better our state politicians will “learn” just what we have been trying so hard to tell them to do, once we elect them to serve in public office, but they just don’t often seem to “hear” us until we remove them and elect someone else, instead.

    I further believe the day will soon come when a cannabis civil rights coalition movement will form, comprised of the ACLU, the Florida AFL-CIO, NAACP, AARP, Veteran’s groups, and of course the long term cannabis activists in each of every one of our 67 Florida counties around every region of the state. The prohibition of cannabis since the late 1930’s is a criminal enterprise that continues on today. All American citizens suffer one way or another due to this prohibition of cannabis, and the truth of the matter is exposed!

  2. after they finish probation or parole– and a certain period of time
    they should be given their rights back, if they have proven to be good citizens
    everyone deserves a second chance— notice– a second chance, not endless chances
    good people make mistakes, some bad enough to deserve jail time— but to punish a citizen for life?– SO I guess I’m in that liberal group– even when I voted for and still support our president DONALD TRUMP
    obama gave a taxpayer funded sex change and military rights to a traitor
    we should extend rights to a citizen that did not betray our country
    even ” Hanoi Jane ” can vote– give people a chance to be good citizens

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