BERKELEY, CA: Sixty-two percent of Florida’s registered voters—and 65 percent of likely voters—support the Amendment 4 ballot initiative that would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions once they have completed all terms of their sentence, a new survey commissioned by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley has found.

The survey was fielded from October 22-31 by the polling firm Latino Decisions. It is part of the Civic Engagement Narrative Change project, a national partnership coordinated by the Haas Institute, and which includes the SEIU, Florida Immigrant Coalition, New Florida Majority, and Haitian Women of Miami, among others.

Florida disenfranchises more citizens for felony convictions than any state—1.7 million of a total of 6.1 million disenfranchised nationally, according to The Sentencing Project, the great majority of whom for non-violent offenses.

The state has among the slowest, most onerous application processes for individuals to restore voting rights, and success rates vary wildly depending on gubernatorial discretion. The crimes for which Floridians lose voting rights are also wide-ranging, and include convictions for drug offenses, theft, and driving with a suspended license.  

If passed, Amendment 4 would make Floridians who have served all terms of their sentence—with the exception of those convicted of murder or sexual offenses—once again eligible to register and vote. This group totals more than 1.4 million Returned Citizens.

Because it would amend the state’s constitution, the ballot measure must reach a 60 percent threshold of support in order to pass. The Haas Institute survey found support for Amendment 4 among likely voters (n=1,102) at 65 percent, opposition at 25 percent, and the remaining 10 percent undecided.

When including all registered voters (n=1,623), 62 percent supported, 22 percent opposed, and 16 percent were undecided on Amendment 4. Overall the survey contains a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percent.

A unique feature of the Haas Institute survey is that it included statistically reliable samples of African American (n=363), Latino (n=676), and white (n=517) registered voters, allowing for more accurate representation of different groups’ views. The survey found that Amendment 4 has majority support from each of the aforementioned groups, albeit at different levels. Support was at 77 percent among African American registered voters (13 percent undecided), 62 percent among Latinos (18 percent undecided), and 58 percent among whites (14 percent undecided).

“Majorities of Floridians across demographic groups are saying that they believe in second chances and fully reincorporating Returning Citizens into civic life,” said Josh Clark, the Haas Institute’s Political Participation Analyst, who led the design of the survey.

“At the same time, Amendment 4 is not a done deal either way. So the takeaway remains the same: If you care about what happens with this amendment, you should get out and vote. Your vote really does matter.”

The poll of opinions on Amendment 4 was part of a statewide baseline survey covering a broad range of attitudes and beliefs about civic, policy, and social issues. As a whole, the survey offers insights into civic engagement, identity, and inter-group dynamics.

The Florida survey builds on last year’s California Survey on Othering and Belonging: Views on Identity, Race and Politics, another statewide baseline study conducted for the Haas Institute.

“How we see one another, our beliefs about who belongs matter a lot. Floridians have a chance to say to the rest of the country that they believe that people deserve a second chance to vote—that their freedom matters to Florida. It’s really encouraging to see that across all major groups, Floridians are saying, we need your voice,” said Olivia E. Araiza, the Haas Institute’s director for the Civic Engagement Narrative Change project.

In the coming months, the Haas Institute and its partners will develop briefs on key findings that emerge from deeper analysis of the Florida survey data.


Rachelle Galloway-Popotas

Marc Abizeid

Josh Clark

Olivia E Araiza