In a U.S. state known for razor thin voting margins, more than 1 million people just became eligible to vote. A down the middle explanation of that is what's first today on CNN 10. I'm Carl Azuz, welcome to the show.
A new state law just took effect in Florida that will restore voting rights to people who've been convicted of felonies, serious crimes. Until this week, Florida was one of four states where convicted felons were never allowed to vote again.
But in last November's mid-term elections, almost 65 percent of Florida's voters decided to change that giving the right to vote back to about 1.4 million former offenders. People convicted of murder or certain types of assault are still not allowed to vote. For those who are, the law requires them to have completed all the terms of their criminal sentences. There's been some confusion about that. For one thing, it's up to the former offenders themselves to determine whether they've completed their terms.
But what about any fines they've been ordered to pay? An election supervisor says, the law isn't clear about how that should be handled. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, a civil rights group, led the effort to get the law passed. It calls the change a non-partisan issue but the law has some critics on both sides of the political aisle. Some say convicted felons should first prove they can live a life free of crime before they're allowed to vote. Others have said that all former offenders should be allowed to vote even if they've committed crimes like murder.
This law's getting a lot of attention specifically because it's taking effect in Florida. Politically it's considered a swing state. One that could choose either a Democrat or a Republican. And because it's a state with a high number of electoral votes, political analysts are trying to figure out how this could effect Florida's influence on future elections.