Will Ex-Felons Help Democrats Win Florida Elections?

In November, almost 65 percent of Florida voters supported restoring voting rights to ex-felons by approving Amendment 4 to the state Constitution–and Democrats across the state plan to capitalize on it.

In Central Florida, the Polk County Democratic leadership believes there are around 45,000 residents of the county who were unable to vote before Amendment 4 passed. Polk County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathie Sutherland says her groups wants to register as many of these voters as possible for the 2020 election.

The Florida League of Women Voters also plans to help register more voters impacted by Amendment 4. The League held registration drives last month and they plan on holding more.

Political leader Barney Bishop  tells Florida Daily that Republicans shouldn’t underestimate the grassroots efforts by the Democrats and the League of Women Voters when it comes to registering voters. Bishop said these groups will mobilize and work hard as they ready for the 2020 election season. Noting how Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns flourished through online outreach, Bishop said to keep an eye on how the League and the Florida Democrats employ social media when it comes to registering ex-felons.

Amendment 4 supporters gauge that there are around 1.4 million ex-felons in Florida who could register to vote.

Many Republicans and conservatives say the Democrats should benefit from that new group of voters but Bishop disagrees with that premise.

Bishop, the former executive director for the Florida Democratic Party, has covered this topic over the last few years with Smart Justice groups across in Florida and said he doesn’t believe that ex-felons list getting their voting rights back as a top priority.

“They want jobs, they want to make a living,” Bishop said, insisting this is “their main objective.”


Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.

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