Voters overwhelmingly support felon voting rights amendment


Nearly three quarters of Florida voters say they would support a ballot amendment to restore voting rights to ex-cons, a new poll found.

The survey, conducted jointly by North Star Opinion Research and EMC Research, found that supermajority support for the measure regardless of the political party.

“This amendment has the strong bipartisan support needed to pass with Florida’s 60 percent threshold,” North Star’s Dan Judy. “Regardless of party, gender, race, or region of the Sunshine State, Floridians strongly support Amendment 4.”

Democrats were the most supportive, with 88 percent in favor, followed by independent voters at 78 percent and Republican voters at 61 percent. That puts all three categories above the 60 percent mark needed to make the state Constitution.

Ideologically, 92 percent of those who self-identify as “liberal” said they would vote for the amendment, while 59 percent who identify as “conservative” said the same.

Overall, 74 percent of voters said they’d back the measure in November. That’s a slight uptick from a February poll that found 71 percent of registered voters in support.

EMC Research’s Dave Beattie added that only 3 percent of those polled said they said they didn’t know about or had no opinion about the issue.

The amendment’s campaign touted the results as well as the bipartisan nature of the poll — North Star does campaign research for Republican politicians, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. EMC’s clients include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

“These poll results reflect what our grassroots movement has found after literally hundreds of thousands of conversations,” said Jackie Lee, campaign manager for the Voting Restoration Amendment.

“Floridians believe in second chances and support the ability of people who have made a mistake to earn back their eligibility to vote. They strongly support Amendment 4 because it impacts people and families from every community and all walks of life. Vote YES for Second Chances and vote YES on Amendment 4 in November.”

Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Restoration Amendment, would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions once they complete all terms of their sentence — including parole, probation, and restitution, if imposed by a judge.

Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be ineligible for restoration.

There was some hope for voting rights advocates that the current executive clemency system would be scrapped after a court ruling deemed it “fatally flawed” and put the onus on the state to fix it.

Those hopes were dashed, however, after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that order.

The current system requires felony offenders to wait up to 7 years before applying for restoration at which point their fate is decided with a vote by the Governor and Cabinet. There’s more more than 10,000 applications in their queue, according to the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

The North Star/EMC poll was conducted by phone — both landlines and cell phones — from March 22 through April 2. It took responses from 1,303 likely general election voters and the margin of error for overall results is ±2.7 percentage points.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • Vicki Henry

    May 2, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    I find it alarming that the Governor and Ron Book will not allow those convicted and paid their debt to society to be treated as citizens of America. Then there is the debacle of the encampment where the folks have until the 6th of the month to ‘magically’ relocate to some ‘housing’ that Book purports is available to them. They are intentionally set up to fail and the general public does nothing….when the state got negative publicity worldwide the registrants were forced to move from under the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge….to where…the current encampment which does not protect from weather or anything that the bridge did. Maybe they should be moved to Ron’s mansion or Laren’s home. There is no redemption in Florida due to the Book nanny abusing Lauren…..the nanny was NOT on any registry. Corruption is alive and well in Florida,

  • Roger Clegg

    May 3, 2018 at 6:43 am

    If you’re not willing to follow the law then you should not have the right to make the law for everyone else which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote should not be restored automatically but only after the felon has shown he has turned over a new leaf since unfortunately most felons will be returning to prison.

    • Marc Brimacombe

      May 5, 2018 at 1:57 am

      If you want to reduce the recidivism rate, bringing former felons back into society is key, and that means giving them a stake, not keeping their rights locked away under the veneer of ‘tough love’, when in fact all you’re doing is further isolating them.

  • Megan Lanske

    May 3, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Skeptical of this poll. Vote no. Felons should not have their rights AUTOMATICALLY restored, they should have to prove remorse and turn over a new leaf. Vote NO in NOvember

    • Marc Brimacombe

      May 5, 2018 at 1:55 am

      Your response makes no sense. Felons are only eligible under the amendment once they’ve completed their sentences – so if that’s not good enough for you, then what measurable standard are you asking for?

  • Anonymous

    May 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I have a felony from 1999 stole $300 worth of cds from a house party when I was 18, young and dumb. I’m 36 now and still have never been able to vote in an election. I’ve had a couple misdemeanors since, “Driving with suspended license” mostly. Last one was 2011. I’ve since built a 80k business from the ground up and have coached multiple sports teams for my kids. This is insanity. I’m a productive member of society. I deserve my rights back. Oh…. btw I never served more than a night in jail and never been to prison. Completed all probation “without” violating. This just isn’t fair. I’ll be watching how this unfolds very closely.

    • Marc Brimacombe

      May 5, 2018 at 1:59 am

      With all respect, an otherwise productive citizen having their rights restored is a reward with far more substance, and the right thing to do.

  • Linda Shamba

    May 8, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Please POLL me because I would say a clear.. NO WAY!

  • Bob McCulley

    May 10, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Its a matter of fairness and sensibility. These are people who live in our communities and you’re telling me they should not have any voting rights or electoral say-so in how they are governed? That’s ridiculous.

    You’re talking about free people who aren’t incarcerated anymore.

    Show me one person who hasn’t made a mistake in his or her life! People change. They learn from mistakes and they make better decisions as a result.

    Its absurd to punish anyone for an error in judgment that may have in some cases been an isolated wrong committed many years ago.

    Vote YES on Amendment 4 and restore some fairness and common sense to our voting enterprise.

Comments are closed.


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