Florida voters will decide this fall if 1.5 million felons will get their voting rights back.
Desmond Meade of Orlando and his group Floridians for Fair Democracy successfully gathered more than 799,000 certified signatures in their years-long petition drive, just a week before the deadline to reach the required total of about 766,000. On Tuesday, the state certified the initiative for the Nov. 6 ballot.
If approved by 60 percent of voters in the fall, the amendment would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions after they fully complete their sentences, including parole or probation. Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would continue to be barred from voting.
“The moment I found out, tears just started streaming down my face,” said Meade, a former addict convicted on drug and firearm charges in 2001. Though he went on to earn a law degree, he could not vote for his wife, Sheena, in her bid for the Florida state House in 2016. “As someone directly impacted, I cannot quantify the level of emotion moving through me right now.”