Concern continues over future of felon voting restoration amendment

Reporter: Sydney Persing
Published: Updated:
Lance Wissinger is looking forward to regaining his right to vote. Photo via WINK News.
Lance Wissinger is looking forward to regaining his right to vote now that Amendment 4 passed. Photo via WINK News.

On election night, Lance Wissinger, like millions of other people celebrated the passage of Amendment 4.

He served five years in state prison for DUI Manslaughter after a vehicle crash in 2003, which left his best friend dead and him severely injured.

Wissinger loves Fort Myers and spends most of his mornings downtown.

Not everyone knows about his past, but he’s not afraid to share – like an exchange he had with a man who said felons shouldn’t have the right to vote: “I asked him why and he said ‘I don’t think they should have the right to vote.’ So I asked, ‘I shouldn’t have the right to vote?’ and he said, ‘Well not you,’ and I said, ‘Well I’m a felon.'”

Wissinger said he’s better off for his time served and he supports Amendment 4.

The ballot measure Florida voters approved last year would allow felons who complete their sentences to have their voting rights restored.

According to its text, the Voting Restoration Amendment applies to felons that have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation, except those who were convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

But when the legislature turned the amendment into law, they added a provision saying those felons need to pay all their legal obligations, like restitution and court costs, before they can vote.

A federal judge ruled that part of the law is unconstitutional. Now, attorneys for the DeSantis administration say, if they don’t win on appeal the law should be thrown out entirely.

Attorney Douglas Molloy said since the amendment was passed by Floridians, “It would be extremely difficult to ignore the vote for the amendment.”

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