The “Sunshine” State, Florida, where this author and blogger has resided for the past three decades, is notable for extremely close elections, but with Republicans in control of the state legislature, the Governorship, and the majority of Congressional seats and both Senate seats in 2019.
But with former felons now able to vote in the future, and the number of Puerto Rican migrants who have settled in the central part of the state, it is clear that Florida might in the next decade move toward a greater opportunity for the Democratic Party to start winning the state in the Presidential elections in the 2020s, and slowly start to have an opportunity to win state legislative control, and possible future state executive control in the long run.
Right now, the three most prominent statewide officials, all Republicans, are Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. It is conceivable that all three could be potential GOP Presidential contenders in 2024, with DeSantis and Rubio now only in their 40s.
But if the Democrats can somehow develop a “bench”, not easy to do, the opportunities for Democratic advancement are possible.
The biggest issue is that there is no one Florida, but multiple Floridas, as North Florida is Southern, Central Florida tends to be Midwest. and South Florida is Northeast. The key battleground is Central Florida, and Puerto Rican growth, along with former felons all over the state voting, could transform the state over time.
About 1.4 million Floridians are denied the right to vote, because of past criminal records, but have paid their debt to society.
This discriminatory law has been in place since 1868, as part of a racist policy during Reconstruction, designed against African Americans, and Governor Rick Scott and the Republican Florida Cabinet Officers have made it nearly impossible for any of this group to regain their voting rights, even a decade or more after having met all legal requirements to be able to have their voting rights restored.
Now there is a constitutional amendment question that will be on the Florida ballot in November, requiring 60 percent or more of those voting to support the end of this discrimination, only found also in three other states—Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia—although the latter has had two Democratic Governors–Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam–who have worked on restoring rights by executive action.
Florida, as the third largest state, is an outlier on the issue, and the proposed constitutional amendment, a move done by former felons working together, seems to have a good chance of success, and particularly with the apparent popularity of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, favored to win over Republican Ron DeSantis.
It is important to understand that anyone who has committed and been convicted of murder or rape would NOT get back their voting rights, but many felons have non violent convictions, and this is designed to restore their voting rights.
It is also ironic that about two thirds of the people who would regain their voting rights are whites, not African Americans, overcoming the stereotype that only African Americans in the past and in the present commit felonies that are non violent.