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Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, who championed the sweeping voting rights ballot measure. Photo: Erika Goldring via Getty Images

Up to 1.4 million people with felony records in Florida are now eligible to vote in elections — a historic milestone that comes two months after Floridians approved a constitutional amendment to automatically re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. It does not include people convicted of murder or sex crimes.

Why it matters: The ballot measure, which overturned a Jim Crow-era law and passed with nearly 65% of the vote, will enfranchise more people at once than any single initiative since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This new voting bloc has the potential to shift the makeup of the country’s largest battleground state, where razor-thin margins often play a deciding role in presidential elections.

Background: The measure's passage set off a partisan debate about how and when the measure will be implemented. The amendment says that “voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.”

  • However, it’s still unclear what "all terms" means. Some say former felons could be required to repay all fines and fees connected to their sentence, per local reports.
  • Republicans leaders like Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, who oppose the measure, told the Palm Beach Post in December that it should be delayed because clarification is needed from the state legislature — which doesn't meet until March.
  • But civil and voting rights organizations argue that the initiative can go into effect without enforcement, and that critics are trying to thwart the will of voters. The American Civil Liberties Union also vowed to take legal action against efforts to undercut the measure.

Meanwhile, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the grassroots group that championed the push, is orchestrating a voter education campaign to ensure that newly enfranchised Floridians exercise their voting rights.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: Only three states — Iowa, Virginia and Kentucky — continue to constitutionally prohibit ex-felons from voting unless the governor approves a clemency plea. 

  • Before the new policy went into effect, felony disenfranchisement laws affected about 6 million people nationally, according to the Sentencing Project. Florida had the most stringent laws, banning more people from voting than any other state.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
25 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Huawei sanctions snarled chip supply chains

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largely successful U.S. effort to hobble China's Huawei has benefitted a host of other tech companies — from smartphone makers such as Apple and Xiaomi to chipmakers like Qualcomm to network vendors including Nokia and Ericsson.

Yes, but: The massive disruption to the industry furthered an industry wide mismatch between supply and demand, exacerbating the global chip shortage.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
45 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about system racism in the U.S.