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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Floridians approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday night that will automatically restore voting rights to 1.5 million ex-felons who have already completed their sentences, except for those convicted of murder or sex crimes.

Why it matters: This comes after numerous unsuccessful legislative attempts and a Supreme Court appeal that sought to overturn the Jim Crow-era law. The ballot measure, which has received bipartisan support, will enfranchise more people at once than any other other single initiative since the women’s suffrage movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Vox explains.

The backdrop: Felony disenfranchisement laws affect about six million people nationally, but the Sunshine State remains the most stringent, banning more people from voting than any other state.

  • Florida is one of four states — Iowa, Virginia and Kentucky — that constitutionally prohibit ex-felons from voting, unless the governor approves a clemency plea. Under Florida's current system, ex-felons have to wait up to seven years before they could petition the Clemency Board, led by Gov. Rick Scott (R) and three other Republican cabinet members.

Yes, but: There’s no principle for a successful petition. In a 2016 clemency hearing, Scott told a petitioner: "There’s no standard. We can do whatever we want," according to ABC News.

  • Scott, who has defended the now-former process and is against the ballot measure, said it would make it too easy for undeserving ex-convicts to regain their voting rights.

The big picture: The amendment will shift the makeup of the country’s largest battleground state, which plays a deciding role in presidential elections. Observers say Democrats will largely benefit because the prohibition disproportionately affects African-Americans, a group that overwhelmingly votes Democratic. According to the Sentencing Project, more than 1 in 5 black Floridians are affected.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.