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Voting rights for felons will be on Florida's November ballot

For the first time in Florida history, voters will decide whether to grant the right to vote to an estimated 1.5 million convicted felons.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Tuesday that the proposal gained the required 766,000 valid signatures to get on the November ballot.The state elections web site showed 799,278 valid signatures.

It will appear as Amendment 4 on the statewide ballot in a midterm election that also will feature elections for U.S. Senate, governor, all three Cabinet races, seats in Congress, the Legislature and other ballot initiatives.

Tuesday’s announcement represents a major political victory for the Clearwater-based Floridians for a Fair Democracy, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), all of which spearheaded the ballot initiative.

The proposal would extend voting rights to most convicted felons without a formal hearing process. It would not apply to people convicted of murder or sex crimes.

If 60 percent of voters support the initiative, it will be added to the Florida Constitution.

Florida is one of three states that permanently strips convicted felons of their civil rights, including the right to vote, run for public office and serve on a jury.

Under current law, felons must wait for at least five years to apply for the restoration of civil rights. The state Commission on Offender Review has a backlog of thousands of clemency applications.

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