Forgiving interpretations of ballot language say only those convicted of first-degree murder still face a lifetime voting ban, but lawmakers say the details of exclusions get dicey.
The Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, better known as Amendment 4, specifically excludes those convicted of murder. But there’s significant disagreement about what that means, Florida Politics reports. Forgiving interpretations of ballot language say only those convicted of first-degree murder still face a lifetime voting ban. But a broad reading of Florida’s homicide statutes includes those convicted of, say, partial birth abortions.
Neil Volz, a board member with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, testified Tuesday before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee that drafters of Amendment 4 intended to exclude those convicted of first-degree murder. The intent, he said, was only to leave out felons convicted of the most severe crimes. The amendment also excludes those convicted of felony sex offenses. But Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews said Florida’s murder statute covers a much wider range of crimes. The chapter of law includes everything from doctor-assisted suicides to partial birth abortions, both second-degree felonies. Nearly 65 percent of voters in November approved restoring voting rights for felons, but lawmakers say the details of exclusions get dicey.