Voters approved Amendment 4 earlier this month, which restores voting rights to approximately 1.7 million people in Florida whose vote was stripped as a result of a felony conviction.
The amendment becomes state law on Jan. 8. The question is, how many felons will register and vote–and will they swing local elections?
A number of jurisdictions across the state have Republican-controlled local governments and elections that Democrats routinely lose by close margins.
Frequently, the losing Democrat is a minority candidate.
That trend could be coming to an end as more than 1 million felons will enter the voting rolls beginning in January. The end result could be a dramatic shift in the way local city halls look and operate , with increased political power for minority groups, buoyed by felon voters.
Large cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Miami could in particular could see a marked difference.
Studies have shown that most people with felony convictions prefer Democrats, who are more likely to support programs and policies that help make re-entry into society easier for people returning to prison as opposed to Republicans, who usually only want to lock more people up.
Political analysts have focused on what more than a million mostly Democratic-leaning voters will mean for Election 2020 and President Trump’s reelection chances; but the effect could be just as huge locally as well.
Time will tell.