Florida proposition on next month’s ballot would create 1.3 million new voters. Republicans have been backing prison reform, but some fear that this measure could benefit Democrats.
Conservatives have been at the forefront of Washington’s effort to help rehabilitate federal prisoners recently. An effort to restore convicted felons’ voting rights in Florida is pitting the party’s new position on the issue against its future prospects in a key presidential swing state, McClatchy Newspapers report. Miami attorney Marlon Hill says that Florida’s Amendment 4 — which would effectively create 1.3 million new voters in a state of roughly 13 million registered voters — is drawing unusual support from both parties’ voters in a state that’s played host to some of the closest presidential contests. “When you go to the water cooler or the lunchroom table in many offices across Florida, this is the one amendment where there is full clarity,” said Hill. “I would be shocked if it does not make the 60 percent [needed to become law].”
Fear that the end result could result in more Democratic voters is scaring off some Republicans who have supported other criminal justice reform efforts in the past, including GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis. Conservatives in Washington back a proposal to bolster the federal prison system’s rehabilitation programs, a move expected to help the GOP improve its standing with voters in urban Democratic strongholds. DeSantis was among the Republicans who voted to advance that proposal from a Congressional committee this year. Hill said Florida’s ballot initiative would force candidates in both parties to compete for a large number of new voters in a state where Republicans have held a narrow advantage.