I am writing to you today to support and issue that is very important to me as well as hundreds of thousands of citizens in the state of Florida who like myself, are not eligible to vote. This November, Floridians will be voting on Amendment 4 that if passed will restore voting rights to former felons who have completed their sentences and all probationary periods. As it stands right now it is next to impossible for former felons, such as myself, to regain their right to vote in the State of Florida.
There are currently over 1.4 million citizens in the State of Florida, representing 10.5% of the total population who are not eligible to vote. This represents both the highest number as well as the highest percentage of any state in the country. While virtually every other state has enacted legislation to enable former felons to vote, Florida has been noted for its inaction and for its continued policy of disenfranchising 10% of the electorate. This November the voters have a chance to change that.
There are a few arguments that have been advanced against Amendment 4. The first argument objects on moral grounds. Those who advance it state that when someone commits a crime particularly a violent crime, they forfeit the right to vote. To those I say fear not, this amendment specifically excludes those who have committed violent crimes or sexual offenses.
There are those on the right of the spectrum who feel that this will only help the Democrats since felons by-and-large vote Democrat. I have no idea where this theory comes from but in my experience, it is untrue. I know this because I, Michael Szafranski, am a former felon. I have voted for the Republican party in every election since I was 18. I am an avid Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott supporter. By those on the right who would deny a former felon’s right to vote they are preventing me, a lifelong republican, from voting when every vote counts.
There are those who may counter that I represent a small minority of former felons and they would gladly deprive me of the right to vote if it means preventing hundreds of thousands of others from voting for the other party. This too, is incorrect. I spent my time in a prison camp. Prison camps are filled with white-collar offenders. Many, if not most, come from the finance industry and their crimes are non-violent in nature. When they are released from prison, they get jobs, pay taxes or start businesses. Most are, like myself, Republicans. I was in prison during the 2016 presidential campaign and it is safe to say that the camp was evenly split between those who would have voted for Hillary Clinton and for those who would have voted for Donald Trump. If I was to have taken a poll among those who had actually voted in prior presidential elections, 80% would have supported Donald Trump. To say that allowing former felons to vote would benefit Democrats is just plain wrong.
I therefore implore all of you, Republican and Democrat alike, to come out on election day and vote Yes on Amendment 4.