The issue of felon voting rights has long been a mainstay in the public and political discourse. Proponents who believe felons should have their voting eligibility restored claim that doing so will help to make the person ‘whole’ again, dignify their status as a normal citizen once again, and aid in the re-entry process. On the other hand, opponents of instituting felon voting rights claim that felons have to earn their right to vote and may do so after meeting a series of criteria, including fulfilling the terms of their sentences.
This project evaluates the effects of the passing of Amendment 4 in Florida, which was designed to restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after completing all terms of their sentence, including a requirement that people with felony records pay all fines and fees associated with their sentence prior to the restoration of their voting rights. The research team will examine differences between felons who owed fines and fees and felons who did not owe fines and fees, on whether:
one group was more likely to register to vote;
one group was more likely to actually vote in the November 2020 US Presidential Election; and
whether those groups in #1 and #2 were disproportionately more likely than their comparison group to recidivate.
This research is important not only in the specific context of Florida, but also more generally in the United States as voting laws and procedures continue to be debated. In doing so, research outcomes from this study will inform policy discussion regarding felon voting rights and felons re-entry into society more generally.