Tallahassee, FL – Florida voters have approved a ballot initiative to to restore voting rights to 1.5 million convicted felons.
Offenders convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense will still not be allowed to vote.
Prior to the amendment, Florida had 13 million people who were eligible to participate in elections.
According to CNN, over one out of five African-American adults have completed their sentences for felony convictions, and were unable to vote prior to the amendment passing.
Felons had previously been allowed to appeal to the governor for restoration of their voting rights, which were granted to just over 153,000 criminals in the past 11 years, NPR reported.
Democratic Governor Charlie Christ restored voting rights to over 150,000 convicts during his four years in office, while Republican Governor Rick Scott has restored the right to vote to just over 3,000 felons over the course of the past seven years.
In 2011, Scott altered the process and imposed a seven-year waiting period before convicts who completed their sentences could apply for restoration of their voting rights, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
In most cases, applicants ended up waiting another three years to receive a response due to the backlog of appeals.
The appeals process was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge in February, NPR reported.
“In Florida, elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines, or standards," the judge declared at the time. "Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration…The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It does not."