As Fla.'s former inmates regain voting rights, lessons of forgiveness must resonate
The right to vote was restored for most Florida felons as of Tuesday, increasing the pool of eligible voters by as many as 1.4 million people in a battleground state infamous for its narrow margins in key elections (Jan. 8) AP
With the passage of Amendment 4, Floridians from all walks of life and all political persuasions rose above partisan politics and restored voting rights to 1.5 million of their fellow citizens who had been incarcerated and had paid their debt to society.
The amendment passed with millions of votes (64 percent of voters approved it), representing the very best of the state, showing the true spirit of forgiveness and demonstrating common sense.
On Tuesday, Amendment 4 became law. And election supervisors in every county will spend today registering everyday Floridians: neighbors, military vets, fellow congregants. Some of them have waited decades to be able to join us in having a voice in our democracy.
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In reflecting on this historic victory and thinking about the path forward, Floridians should remember how they got here. They decided to put politics aside and unite around their basic values, beliefs and empathy for neighbors and friends. In some cases, it was their favorite pastor who made a mistake in his younger years. Maybe it was their favorite uncle who fought for this country, only to fall into despair and addiction upon his return. Sometimes, it was just a neighbor who exemplified the meaning of second chances and redemption.
FORT MYERS NEWS-PRESS: First former felons registered to vote in Florida Tuesday, registrations continue all day
The Christian Coalition of America is proud to have been an early supporter of Amendment 4 because we believe that redemption is a central part of the Christian faith. As a nation built on Christian values, we also believe that redemption should be a key part of our policy toward returning citizens.
We understand that when we restore voting eligibility to people who have paid their debt in full, they are less likely to reoffend. The more quickly returning citizens are reintegrated into society, the better it is for public safety, families and the economy.
We believe that Amendment 4 is a lesson for all of America on what can happen when people from all walks of life come together to fix what is broken.
Roberta Combs; Charleston, S.C.
President and CEO of Christian Coalition of America