By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
Jan. 11, 2019, 61 c
A referendum in Florida last November ended some of the harshest voting restrictions in the nation for those with criminal records.
Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
“This week, as many as 1.4 million Floridians became eligible for full citizenship again — thanks to millions of their neighbors who voted overwhelmingly in November to restore ballot access to people with felony convictions who have served their time.
It was restorative justice far too long in the making.
After the Civil War, Florida — like many other states in the South — barred anyone with a criminal conviction from voting. Aimed at denying freed slaves full participation in democracy, the policy affected every election in Florida from Reconstruction through 2018, when races for governor and the Senate were so close that they required recounts.
Credit for the largest enfranchisement since women’s suffrage a century ago goes to a determined advocacy campaign, which built enough support that Amendment 4 easily cleared the 60 percent threshold needed for ratification. It went into effect on Tuesday and extended this basic right to Floridians convicted of all felonies except for murder and aggravated sexual offenses.
The sight of so many Americans eagerly registering to vote was a rare bright spot in a nation where the right to representative government is under strain from onerous ID laws and computerized gerrymandering.”