Critical Race Policy Analysis of Florida's Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative

The disproportionate disenfranchisement of people of color is compounded in states that have strict felon disenfranchisement laws and therefore, voter disenfranchisement policies perpetuate the second-class status of people of color. In response to a growing trend to enfranchise felons across the country, Florida voters passed Amendment 4. In response, the Florida legislature made multiple attempts to limit the reach of the policy. The author uses Bell's Critical Race Theory as a framework to assess how the policy advances social justice and what barriers impede it. The analysis found that Amendment 4 is a progressive policy that has the potential to enfranchise felons of color, although the exclusion of felony murder and sexual offenders promotes the further legal disenfranchisement of an already marginalized community. In addition, the benefits of Amendment 4 are undermined by the Florida legislature, which is currently litigating the policy's implementation and intends to uphold a neo-poll tax that disproportionately impacts people of color. Other considerations and policy recommendations are discussed.