Supporter, opponent of Amendment 4 discuss what the change would mean for Florida on ‘The Weekly’
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Supporter, opponent of Amendment 4 discuss what the change would mean for Florida on ‘The Weekly’


this is the weekly on click Orlando comm with Justin warmoth good morning I’m Justin warmoth when Floridians cast their midterm ballots in November not only will they be voting on several local state and federal races but there are a dozen constitutional amendments on there as well including amendment 4 it’s called the Voting restoration amendment and it would automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their sentences and paid all court costs with the exception of those convicted of sex crimes and murder currents Florida law requires felons to wait at least five years before filing for clemency a process that often takes more than a decade this morning we have advocates from both sides here starting with investigator Mike Oldfield’s interview with Tallahassee clemency attorney Reggie Garcia in Florida we think there’s one point seven million convicted felons who have lost for very valuable rights to vote which gets the most attention and should and that’s what amendment 4 is about but also jury service can’t serve on a jury civil or criminal can’t run for elected office if you’re crazy enough in today’s day and age to do that and very significantly lose firearm rights which is a big deal statewide but particularly where I’m from in North Florida you know that makes sense to me though I suspect viewers will say well wait a minute I don’t think a convicted felon should have firearm rights let’s talk about that and the message in your book from 2015 because amendment 4 wasn’t on the table yet that’s right well the the message and the title of the book is second chances and the reason to consider supporting amendment 4 is that people who have earned a second chance meaning they’re now citizens taxpayers in many cases business owners homeowners thousands here in the Central Florida viewing area they just want to be whole citizens they want to participate in their government so we talked about all kinds of clemency in the book but voting rights is a big deal now because on the November ballot proposed amendment 4 which was put on by the voters 850,000 voters in Florida of all political parties put that on the ballot in what’s called a citizen’s initiative petition the Supreme Court looked at the ballot summary and approved it not for content or saying it’s it’s a good or bad public policy okay but that it’s not confusing you’re a clemency attorney so you understand about second chances is there a particular case that stands out in your past that people that it will resonate with people where you thought I’m glad I did it he or she deserved that second chance sure and through the years have helped different folks and there’s a gentleman in North Florida that has now talked about this but you know use drugs sold drugs while they were in school convicted felon that one happened to be federal not state finished school did their prison term got their rights restored or actually you know very prominent professional now and and talks about that experience to help others but you know many times it’s just a simple property crime we’re bouncing a check or even a small amount of marijuana but somebody 15-20 years ago they have a felony conviction and again can’t vote serve on a jury seek elected office or own a firearm so what amendment for will do is will be voting rights only not all the other rights and again for the 1.7 million convicted felons in Florida that’s a big deal and it’s a first start that they can pick their local leaders their state leaders their national leaders the economic studies show there’s a positive for hundred million dollar economic impact and you say well Reggie how is that related to voting and the idea is that people that vote have a buy-in in their community they’re not going to reoffending to be lawful citizens they’re going to contribute to the economy we’re gonna have lower recidivism etc let me just read this and of course we’ll have this in the piece but a yes vote supports this amendment to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions and let’s underline this you and I should talk about this except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense upon completion of their sentences including prison parole probation so felony is a broad stroke those key things that we just talked about the violent offenders they’re off the table yeah there’s a specific exemption thank you for mentioning it for murder and sex crimes and the Florida Legislature if this amendment passes like with many constitutional amendments and that’s what this is is language to amend the Florida Constitution the legislature next spring when they meet in Tallahassee will do an implementing bill so that it essentially will direct the thirty of the 67 supervisors of elections the Florida Department of State and Division of Elections on how to make this a seamless system right now if you’re a convicted felon those lists go to the supervisors and of course you can’t vote and can’t get a voter registration cards do you think it can pass given that 60% that’s a tough number to hit 60% is a tough number to get the polling is kind of all over the map now that the primaries are behind us this week I think people will now just start focusing on these 13 amendments and we appreciate the station calling attention to this one in particular and I know you all will cover others but 60 is a high bar and the biggest risk is there’s ballot fatigue and folks just don’t vote or they get in there and they’re confused and they vote no on everything well I think the reflex would be no on this so what are you gonna tell the voters why are you passionate about this why do you think they should vote yes well again I think we’re fair people I think people have earned a second chance if the felony was long ago nonviolent there now productive members of society they work there helping their kids get through school they’re contributing to the economy and this is you know many times they’re business owners and property owners Mike you know the perception that the convicted felon is this monster I mean it sounds a little different but I talked to 50 of these folks a month they’re just regular people you know used to be somebody else now it’s it’s our relatives our neighbors our friends in some cases our co-workers the construction industry and the hospitality industry both big industries in Central Florida those two professions and industries have have a reputation of giving convicted felons employment and second chances and the idea is especially if somebody did something when they were immature in their 20s and 30s and they’re now in their 40s 50s and 60s that was such a long time ago they’re different people now so you’ve put faces to this you’ve looked them in the eye is it important to them they really want that chance to vote I think so in the best example of that again is 850,000 Florida voters put this one on the ballot not the legislature not the Constitution revision Commission so they thought it was important enough you know to at least let the rest of the voters yeah and we think there’s 13 million voters in Florida vote on it you think they’re gonna support it I think they will I think the biggest risk frankly is there’s some controversial mmm on the ballot that I won’t get into and identified but some of the folks that are trying to kill the ones they don’t like may run a campaign to just say vote no on everything which is a simple message but that would be unfortunate so it I encourage the voters to look at these ahead of time which is very easy to do on the Florida Division of Elections website the 13 amendments are on there there’s a short 75 word ballot summary and let vote vote errs you know through through you all’s efforts and others educate themselves before they go in the booth for people watching this I know I asked you already why you’re passionate but why should they support this you know the voters may be saying well what’s in it for me do I really need to give these felons a second chance well frankly what’s in it for most of the voters is they are citizens and taxpayers and they are helping elect their local and state and national leaders but the convicted felons are often their neighbors relatives friends from church coworkers it again it’s almost hard to explain because people don’t walk around with a poster that say I am a convicted felon sure but but there again if there’s 1.7 million in a state of 20 million people you can do the math pretty quick you know if we were just to randomly pick 20 friends and put him in the room you know two or three would surprise you that there are convicted felons again and this is just could be an old property crime could be an old drug possession case etcetera that leads me to my next question of the one point five point six I’ve heard different numbers 1 5 2 1 7 how many of those would be eligible a large majority well all of them except people convicted of murder and sex crimes so a large majority solutely don’t have the right to vote and they’d love to have it that’s right and you think they deserve it yes sir and coming up the other side I’ll sit down with Tampa area attorney Richard Harrison who’s working to inform voters why he thinks they should vote no when it comes to amendment 4 keep it here this is the weekly on click Orlando comm with Justin warmoth welcome back this morning we’re taking a closer look at amendment for one of 12 constitutional amendments on the November ballot the Voting restoration amendment would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences with the exception of those who committed crimes like murder or sex offenses but attorney Richard Harrison who’s behind the group Floridians for a sensible voting rights policy is strongly against the amendments language saying it’s far too broad so the worst of the worst all right the murders and the rapists are excluded within the rest of the universe of convicted felons you still have people convicted of violent crimes attempted murder spousal abuse elder abuse armed robbery assault battery kidnapping I mean there’s a lot of bad people still in the mix and that’s the problem we think it just goes too far if the amendment had been limited to people convicted of non-violent felonies we’re probably not here having this conversation right now somebody looks at each person who applies for clemency they get an opportunity eventually to make a case there’s a background check you get to go in front of the governor and the cabinet at some point and make your case and show that you’ve actually changed your life around that clemency process a lot of people have a problem with it where do you stand on the process as it is right now there’s some fair criticisms of the process like any process and especially a government process there’s always room for improvement it can take too long it can be very slow it can be very intimidating for people who may not be the most sophisticated people to begin with and so it’s it’s not it’s intended to be a process that you can do yourself a lot of people have difficulty with that and so then they feel like they need to hire a lawyer which many people can’t afford to do so there’s a lot of fair criticisms of the process you know the answer to those criticisms is let’s work on making the process work on making it more efficient and there are certainly some things that could be done along those lines the answer to the process is too long and too slow is not throw out the process and give all felons automatically the right to vote without any kind of investigation any kind of inquiry what kind of trickle down would that have if this if this gets down and and 60 percent of the vote goes towards this what kind of trickle down do you think would happen well you know that’s that there’s sort of the policy aspects of the question which is what we’ve been talking about and now you’re talking about really what are the potential political impacts everybody seems to agree that there’s something on the order of a million and a half convicted felons in Florida so if we assume that let’s just say a million if this amendment passes come January 1 a million people that didn’t have the right to vote suddenly do now there’s going to be some affirmative things that those folks have to go do it they’ll still have to go down to the voter the supervisor of election and go register to vote but they’re going to be allowed to so you’re looking at potentially a million or more new potential registered voters I’m not a political prognosticator mm-hmm I don’t know of any good way to to guess how those folks might register or what party they might support but if we take that million plus new voters and just break them out sort of along the same divides that we have currently in Florida you’re still looking at hundreds of thousands of new registered voters on each side that’s a lot of new voters coming into the system at one time that certainly the parties will be after people will be out to get those votes the other thing that we don’t really know is the next step assuming that those folks actually go out and register to vote then what is the actual voter participation rate going to be for registered voters today you know those numbers can be discouraging we don’t see as many people voting as what we would like to see voting now there’s really no way to know right how to what extent those folks would participate and Florida has been so close I mean three out of five or so presidential races have been decided between two hundred thousand votes or so or less so that could be a deciding factor that’s well that’s the big issue the big issue is you’re looking at a state where you’re right in the last presidential election the total statewide popular vote difference was only 112 thousand votes if you have a million new registered voters and if the majority of them happen to register as Democrats if you get 10% of those new voters to go out and vote you’re now talking about enough votes to swing a statewide election mm-hmm and it’s going to have down ballot impacts too if you get enough people to swing a statewide election you are certainly going to find places where you have enough new voters in the mix to change the outcome on congressional races and on state legislative races when you look at the other states around the United States and and there are several a handful that restore rights right after someone is released have you in your studies what kind of impacts if at all has that had there’s lots of data out there and as with all data you can spin it lots of different ways there are actually some states and I didn’t know this till I got interested in this process there are actually a couple of states where you don’t you never lose your right to vote even if you’re gonna vote in prison right in prison that seems very odd to me but you know the glory of our dual form of government is that the states are the great laboratories and the states are free to do things pretty much how they want to do things now to try new ideas to see what works too find out what doesn’t work and what works in one state may or may not work someplace else there are Florida is in the minority of states that have this permanent disenfranchisement if you’re convicted of a felony it’s been the law in Florida for over a hundred years there’s been part of the Constitution since before the Civil War that doesn’t make it better or worse than the way other places do it and I don’t know that the crime rates frankly and those other states are significantly better between now and November 6th how how do you get your message out to voters I know amendments aren’t necessarily the most popular of topics that talk about we have a big governor’s race of course that’s getting a lot of the headlines but as you work to get your message out and to inform voters how do you do that well it’s an educational process not only you know there are a lot of amendments on the ballot this time around we’re not quite sure yet how many will ultimately be on the final ballot in November but it’s going to be a bunch and there at the end of the ballot after the governor the US Senate the congressional races the local races it’s a lot a lot of stuff for voters to get through it’s going to be a very long very intimidating ballot so a big part of the process is educating people if folks walk into the voting place with no idea what’s on the ballot and they get to the end and see potentially 13 very long lengthy amendments a lot of folks are just going to walk away they won’t vote we know there’s a huge drop-off from the number of people who vote in the top of the ballot races compared to the number of people in the same election who end up voting on the constitutional amendments there’s a huge drop-off people just don’t participate or they get frustrated and they vote no on everything depending on how you feel about the other amendments that may or may not be what you want either so it’s an educational process it takes time to understand what these things are about takes time to sort through the propaganda and there’s any of that out there and there’s gonna be plenty more on all of these amendments you know there’s a special interest group behind every one of these amendments and behind some of them there’s lots of special interest groups and depending on how much money they have you’re gonna see a lot of propaganda a lot of TV advertising social media advertising people are just gonna be swamped between now and November and again for an amendment to pass in Florida it must receive 60 percent of the vote we will be following this one very closely that’s all the time we have for you this morning for a look at the exact wording of amendment 4 along with the 11 others and to click Orlando com / weekly I’m Justin warmoth have a great Sunday

6 Comments

  • Fla-bushcraft Prepper

    Nope, voting no on 4.
    Some Felons can vote again already if they get out of prison, and learn skills, jet a job, volunteer at charities and then go to court to ask a judge to expunge their record. It happens but not often because Felony Criminals usually want to take the selfish way. When I was growing up, I had 5 brothers and 6 sisters. All of us would talk off and on about how we would loose our voting rights if we ever got a felony conviction. Twelve kids all grown and zero felony convictions. All grew up in a low income, below poverty level family and zero went to prison.
    A Vote of Yes on 4 is a pathway for some to go hell bent for good times and end up doing time. Crime will go up and more lives destroyed.
    Say No to increased crime and tell people to be good or loose out.

    I am a licensed Security officer here in Florida and so is my son.

  • Mic Kennedy

    I'd be inclined to vote "yes" to allow them to vote 15 years after their release…. Assuming they have no run-ins with the law (minus minor traffic violations).

  • sonny Webster

    For other reasons mentioned before, you should vote NO on Amendment 4, because it writes in DISCRIMINATION to the Florida Constitution. It discriminates against a certain group of people who also deserve a second chance. It's like telling people " you can vote……… but only if your hair is not blond" That's how RIDICULOUS Amendment 4 is. Vote NO on DISCRIMINATION, vote NO on Amendment 4……. ALL OR NONE!!!!

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