Florida voters have approved a ballot initiative which provides former felons with the right to vote, re-enfranchising 1.4 million people. Amendment 4 was one of 13 ballot initiatives that Floridians considered this year, but it has received the most national attention, as it enfranchises the largest population in U.S. history since women's suffrage.
Florida was one of only four states that disenfranchised former felons. The approval of Amendment 4 ensures that felons who have completed their sentence will be able to vote, with the exception to those convicted of murder and sexual offenses, who will remain ineligible.
With its 29 electoral college votes and perennial swing-state status, Florida is tremendously influential politically. It was the deciding state in the 2000 election, and one of the most important ones in the 2016 election. It also had key gubernatorial and Senate races this year.
According to the Florida state department, roughly 13 million citizens are registered to vote, with both Republicans and Democrats having nearly 5 million party members each. If another million people are added to the voter rolls, it could affect the balance of power in a state largely controlled by Republicans on the state level.
As black people are disproportionately represented among former felons, one in five black Florida voters are prohibited from voting due to a criminal record. Although they make up only 16 percent of the population according to the 2010 Census, black people make up 43 percent of Florida's inmate population, according to the latest yearly report from the Florida Department of Corrections. Florida also accounts for a quarter of the disenfranchised population in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project.
Black voters are not guaranteed additions to the Democratic Party, but the party in general has a higher number of black voters than the Republican Party.