Before the result, Florida was one of the four states that did not restore voting rights to felons after serving their sentences.
"This was a campaign about inclusion", Meade continued. "Our victory today shows that if we unify around our shared values, reaching out across parties and beyond politics as usual, we all win". "That's what happens when we're able to transcend partisan politics and bickering, when we're able to transence racial anxieties and discourse, when we're able to come together as God's children".
The state's constitution allowed the governor to restore voting rights for any reason he or she saw fit and didn't require an explanation. More than 1 in 5 African-Americans in the state are disenfranchised because of the policy, according to an estimate from The Sentencing Project.
Former offenders in Florida could petition the governor for clemency to have their voting rights restored, but in 2011 then-governor Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, rewrote the rules, making Florida the toughest state in the U.S. for felons to regain their voting rights. "The second thing that is so important about this is how we did this".
While liberal-leaning groups succeeded in getting some of their favored policy proposals on the ballot in Republican-controlled states, the partisan pattern was reversed in Democratic-leaning OR and MA. Constitutional amendments need no less than 60 percent of the vote to pass.
"Western and northeastern states have led the way on legalizing marijuana, but the victory in MI powerfully demonstrates the national reach of this movement", said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who questioned how long the federal government could resist the legalization wave. "When your time is done, it's done". Supporters say that the Amendment will provide much-needed reform to an overly-punishing system which disproportionately affects African Americans: around 17.9 percent of potential black votes in Florida.
"This is transformative in Florida", Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida tells TIME.
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