Florida voters overwhelmingly support a proposal to restore felons’ voting rights, known as Amendment 4.
That was one finding in a University of North Florida poll out Monday.
Arlington resident Thomas Mitchell can’t vote because of a robbery he was convicted of in 1980.
“I’ve raised five children since then. Been married 33 years,” said Mitchell, who pastors at First Coast Christian Ministries. “Seventeen grandchildren. I’ve never been in any trouble since then.”
He said he’s not the same person he was nearly 40 years ago. Yes, he made a mistake, as we all do, but he said he served his 10-month jail sentence long ago.
He hopes Florida voters will believe in second chances, he said.
“Think about the next man, the woman, and let’s make life better for the next person by voting,” he said.
If the UNF poll results hold true in November, Mitchell and 1.5 million others like him will be able to vote again. The poll found 71 percent of likely voters are in favor of Amendment 4, said UNF pollster Mike Binder.
“And there’s support across all parties. Democrats are at 83 percent. Republicans are even at 62 percent approval,” Binder told WJCT News.
Just 21 percent of those polled were opposed, and 8 percent were unsure.
Regarding race, 82 percent of African-American respondents indicated they would vote “yes” on the amendment, while 69 percent of white respondents and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents claimed they would vote “yes” on the proposition.
The full title and summary of Amendment 4 are:
BALLOT TITLE: Voting Restoration Amendment
BALLOT SUMMARY: This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis
Amendments require 60 percent of voters’ approval to be added to the state constitution.