Florida voters may get a say over casino gambling

The Florida Supreme Court's ruling that approved the language of a proposed amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons was hailed by advocates on Thursday

The Florida Supreme Court's ruling that approved the language of a proposed amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons was hailed by advocates on Thursday

In a pair of high-profile issues that could go on the ballot next year, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved proposed constitutional amendments that would restore felons' voting rights and restrict the expansion of gambling in the state.

The amendment allows felons to get their voting rights restored once they finish their sentences, including probation or parole.

As of Thursday, state records showed the gambling amendment had 74,626 of the 766,200 valid signatures required for ballot placement.

People who commit murder or felony sexual offenses wouldn't be eligible for automatic voting rights restoration.

Over 10,000 requests now sit in Scott's office, waiting for the seal of approval, but the governor and Bondi have been notoriously slow in restoring felon voting rights, only approving around a quarter of those applications so far.

But there's a big "if" before either can be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot-both amendments still need hundreds of thousands of signatures. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi made it so felons would have to wait at least five years after finishing their sentences before they could apply to vote again.

Democrats had filed proposals in the state legislature to expand voting rights to ex-felons. "This amendment modernizes Florida's criminal justice rules by bringing our state in line with others nationwide".

The Supreme Court was more divided about whether the gambling-related initiative should move forward. Justice Alan Lawson, who joined the court at end of December, did not take part. It would require voter approval of casino-style games.

Two Supreme Court justices argued that the amendment was misleading because it is unclear how it would affect counties where voters have approved slot machines for local dog and horse tracks. That includes the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade.

"The initiative is placing voters in the position of deciding between a preference for controlling the expansion of full-fledged casino gambling and Florida's current legal gaming landscape", Polston wrote.

"First, the ballot title and summary clearly and unambiguously inform the voters of the chief goal of the proposed amendment", Lewis wrote.

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