Felon voting rights, casino amendments OK for 2018, says court

Last Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017, 3:58 PM EDT

Restoring voting rights for felons and requiring voter approval for new casinos are two amendments that are a step closer to being on the 2018 ballot.

  • Florida Supreme Court approved ballot language for 2 amendments
  • Casino amendment would require voter approval for expansion
  • Felon amendment would restore voting rights
  • Both must collect signatures to get on 2018 ballot

The Florida Supreme Court signed off on the ballot language for both amendments Thursday. they still need to gather thousands of signatures to get on the 2018 ballot.

A divided court ruled 4-2 on Thursday that the casino amendment was not misleading and sticks to one subject. The proposed amendment requires the Florida Legislature to seek voter approval before allowing any new casino gambling in the state.

The amendment is being pushed by gambling opponents who have fought efforts to expand casinos over the last several years. State legislators have considered several proposals to expand, most of which failing to pass.

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 court also approved ballot language for a proposed ballot initiative seeking to automatically restore voting rights for most felons once they complete their sentences.

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

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

Florida is only one of three states that still stops felons who have served their time from being able to vote again. 

The group proposing the ballot initiative still needs to gather nearly 700,000 voter signatures.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.