The Phoenix Flyer

New TV ad: Did you know 1.5 million Floridians living with felony convictions can’t vote?

By: - September 7, 2018 8:00 am

Activist groups looking to educate citizens about the plight of felons who can’t vote have launched a new television ad that will air statewide in Florida over the next two weeks.

Produced by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and the Alliance for Safety and Justice, the 60-second ad will raise awareness about more than 1.5 million people in Florida living with felony convictions that prevent them from voting.

Only three states in the country – Florida, Iowa and Kentucky – permanently ban convicted felons from voting.

The coalition is the main advocacy group in Florida pushing for Constitutional Amendment 4, known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons initiative.

The amendment on the November 6 ballot would restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions (except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense) upon completion of their sentence.

Many top Republicans have come out against Amendment 4, including current Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Ashley Moody, the Republican nominee for Attorney General in the November election.

But groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP strongly support Amendment 4, as does the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a national organization involved in the new TV ad. The group issued a statement, saying:

“Our goal of this campaign is to raise awareness across the state and country about the hundreds of restrictions on employment, professional licensing, voting, housing, and more, that people living with past convictions struggle with every day,” said Robert Rooks, vice president with the Alliance for Safety and Justice.

“Long after they have completed their sentences and paid their debts to society, people continue to face barriers to earning a living, supporting their families, and attaining stability in their lives. It undermines the ability of people to work towards redemption and the safety of communities, serving no one’s interest. It’s critical that the people of Florida and this nation fully understand just how many Americans are impacted by these counterproductive barriers, and how extensively they reach into every facet of people’s lives.”

Amendment 4 will need to pass by a 60 percent margin in November. The polling on the measure has been mixed. A Quinnipiac survey released back in February showed 67 percent supporting the measure.

However, a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released in June showed that 43 percent of those surveyed were “not sure” about the proposal.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.