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Democrats worry Republicans could block voting rights amendment

Posted: 11:17 PM, Dec 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-15 04:17:45Z
Democrats accuse Republicans of suppressing will of voters

Democrats are worried incoming Governor Ron DeSantis may try to stall implementing Amendment 4.

The ballot initiative, passed by voters last month, allows ex-felons to get their voting rights back after they complete their sentences. Felons convicted of murder or sexual assault would be excluded.

"I am concerned of what he is trying to do delay what the voters have decided," said Collier County Democratic Party Chair Yudy Barberra.

DeSantis opposed Amendment 4 while campaigning for governor. He said this week he wants the legislature to pass a bill implementing the law before it takes effect. The legislature convenes March 8th.

Barberra says she's worried ex-felons won't be able to register in time for upcoming municipal and special elections.

"We got to get them ready, and we need to work with them to get them registered and them making them go to the polls."

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) says legislation needs to be passed giving guidance to the Secretary of State's office about how Amendment 4 would be implemented.

She wants to do that as soon as possible

But the ACLU claims Amendment 4 has an effective date of January 8, when DeSantis is sworn in, and the legislature doesn't need to do anything.

"We sent a letter to Secretary (Ken) Detzner on behalf of a group of civil and voting rights organizations with guidance on the steps his office should take to ensure Amendment 4 is implemented in a timely and smooth fashion. "

The NAACP also wrote a letter to DeSantis earlier this week urging him to quickly implement the amendment.

An estimated 1.5 million ex-felons will be eligible to vote under this amendment, Barbera says many of them would vote Democrat.

"This is another way of voter suppression, it's an understanding that this way we might have the numbers to turn Florida blue."

4-In-Your-Corner reached out to DeSantis' office for comment but did not hear back from him.