The newly approved measure made Florida's ballot after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a grassroots membership organization led and ran by formerly convicted persons, collected more than 800,000 signatures needed to qualify the amendment. Amendment 4 will not apply to people who were convicted of murder or felony sex crimes, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Prior to the vote, some 1.5 million Floridians, roughly 9.2% of voting-age residents, have completed their sentences without being able to vote.
Amendment 3, also known as the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative, passed with 71.5 percent of the vote, despite a late push from opposition that believes the move will only further strengthen the Seminole Tribe's stranglehold on the Florida gambling market.
The goal is "giving citizens, not politicians, a greater voice in the drawing of their voting district lines", said Sam Mar of the Action Now Initiative, which provided more than $7 million in support of the measures. To put that in context, 13 million Floridians registered to vote for the 2018 midterm elections.
"Remember, nothing is impossible when you have God on your side", said Meade's voicemail, who could not be reached on Wednesday morning but clearly sees this work as a calling.
With its 29 electoral college votes and perennial swing-state status, Florida is tremendously influential politically.
Most states have some voting restrictions for people convicted of felonies.
"Florida voters have kicked open the doors of Tallahassee's back rooms and demanded an end to gambling industry influence in the hallways of the capitol", Sowinski said in a prepared statement.
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Florida affiliate, said the result would remove "an ugly stain" from the state constitution.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce supported the amendment.
In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott instituted a policy requiring any Floridian convicted of a felony to endure a waiting period of at least five years after completing all aspects of their sentences, including parole or probation and paying fines.