Felons across Florida have their voting rights restored

It was a day filled with hugs and handshakes for Lance Wissinger.

“It was an amazing, emotional experience,” Wissinger said.

It started with breakfast with family and friends, followed by a walk to the Lee County Supervisor of Elections office, where he and other felons registered to vote.

“Now I realize how much it meant to me,” Wissinger said. “Fighting for it that much more to get it back is really a big step in the right direction for me.”

The historic day comes after the passage of Amendment 4 in November. It gives certain offenders who have completed their sentences the right to vote again. More than 1.4 million felons across the state are affected by the passing of the amendment.

“We changed the policy that had held some people back,” said Neil Volz, from Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. “Now we all have a responsibility to use our gifts and our talents to make our communities a safer place.”

Having their fundamental civic right restored has given people like Permon Thomas hope for the future.

“This day is monumental for me because it gives me hope that once I’m released from supervision that immediately I’ll be able to vote and have a voice,” Thomas said.

A voice that Lance Wissinger said would not be heard without the help from other Floridians.

“I appreciate forgiveness, but I don’t expect it,” Wissinger said. “I really appreciate [what] the voters of this state have done for us.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Lance Wissinger.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Michael Mora