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Florida Restores Voting Rights For 1.5 Million Former Felons

Amendment 4 passed with 64 percent of the vote.

Florida officially voted to pass Amendment 4 on Tuesday (Nov. 4), restoring the voting rights of 1.5 million people who have been convicted of felonies.

Amendment 4 earned 64 percent of the vote, the Pensacola News Journal reports.  The amendment, which needed at least 60 percent to pass, applies to ex-felons who have completed their sentence in full (including probation and restitution). Convicted murderers and sex offenders are excluded from the list.

Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, led the initiative that landed Amendment 4 on the ballot. FRRC celebrated on Twitter, thanking Floridians for voting to pass the amendment.

The organization's next goal will be to "end the discrimination of Floridians with convictions."

Florida is one of four states that permanently strips felons of their voting rights. This particular method of disenfranchisement dates back to the Jim Crow era and and hit a peak during the 1970s. According to Business Insider, nearly one in four black Floridians are prohibited from voting due to a previous felony conviction. Under the previous system, a convicted felon would have to wait five years after completing their sentence before requesting clemency.

The sluggish process goes through Florida's Gov. Rick Scott and a clemency board, which meets four times a year.

READ MORE: Florida's Voter Registration Process Rules Unconstitutional

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Ugandan Man Becomes A Lawyer To Win Back Father's Land

When Jordyn Kinyera was 6 years old, his father lost his land after being sued by neighbors. At the time, his father was retired and didn't have many resources to fight the case.

For two decades, the case dragged on in court. However, on Monday (April 1) a Ugandan court delivered a final judgment in favor of Kinyera's father, thanks to Kinyera himself.

Speaking to the BBC Kinyera said seeing his father's legal woes inspired him to become a lawyer.

"I made the decision to become a lawyer later in life but much of it was inspired by events I grew up witnessing, the circumstances and frustrations my family went through during the trial and how it affected us," Kinyera said.

It took Kinyera 18 years to receive the education needed to become a lawyer. Yet despite how long it took for him to legally win the land back, he's happy.

"Justice delayed is justice denied. My father is 82 years and he can't do much with the land now. It's up to us children to pick up from where he left."

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Lori Lightfoot Becomes Chicago’s First Black Female Mayor

Lori Lightfoot scored a historic win in Chicago's mayoral race. The 56-year-old former federal prosecutor became the Windy City’s first black female mayor Tuesday (April 2), as well as the city’s first lesbian major.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Lightfoot, pulled into the lead grabbing 74% of the vote against her opponent Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

“Thank you, Chicago. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Lightfoot said in her acceptance speech. “Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change.”

Thank you, Chicago! pic.twitter.com/IimreRoBff

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“When we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance,” she continued. “We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine, and a powerful Mayor. But I remembered something Martin Luther King said when I was very young. Faith, he said, is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.

“We couldn’t see the whole staircase when we started this journey, but we had faith—an abiding faith in this city, in its people, and in its future.”

Lightfoot also vowed to break the city's “endless cycle of corruption,” and work to make Chicago “thriving, prosperous, better, stronger, fairer -- for everyone.”

Preckwinkle, a  72-year-old former teacher, leader of the city's Democratic Party and former City Council Member, congratulated Lightfoot on her victory and thanked supporters.  “It has been amazing meeting supporters from across the city, hearing your stories and sharing our vision for the future of Chicago,” she tweeted.

Chicago, which is the nation’s third-largest city, elected Harold Washington as its first black mayor in 1983. Lightfoot is now only the third black mayor to be elected in the city, and the second female mayor.

Lightfoot will be sworn in on May 20. Read her speech below.

“Thank you, Chicago. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“When we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance. We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine, and a powerful Mayor.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

 

“But I remembered something Martin Luther King said when I was very young. Faith, he said, is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“We couldn’t see the whole staircase when we started this journey, but we had faith—an abiding faith in this city, in its people, and in its future.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“We still have faith, we still are determined, and with this mandate for change, now we’re going to take the next steps together.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“Together we can and will finally put the interests of our people—all of our people—ahead of the interests of a powerful few. Together we can and will make Chicago a place where your zipcode doesn’t determine your destiny.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“We can and we will give our neighborhoods—all of our neighborhoods—the same time and attention that we give to the downtown. We can and will make sure our neighborhoods and our neighbors—all of our neighbors—are invested in each other.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“We can and we will break this city’s endless cycle of corruption, and never again allow politicians to profit from their elected positions.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

“Together we can and will remake Chicago. Thriving, prosperous, better, stronger, fairer—for everyone.”

— Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootForChi) April 3, 2019

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The Supreme Court Rules A Painless Execution Is Not Guaranteed By The Constitution

The Supreme Court ruled Monday (April 1) that a painless execution was not guaranteed under the United States Constitution, which means Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew's potential suffocation due to a severe condition as a result of the lethal injection, is legal.

According to the Los Angeles Times a 5-4 vote rejected Bucklew's claim that to receive the lethal injection would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and that the state would have to find another way to execute him.

The case split the judges down the middle.

The court's conservatives said that after 18 years on death row, Bucklew's allegation was a last ditch hail marry to halt the execution for more years. Bucklew reportedly waited a little less than two weeks before his execution to file a suit.

“The people of Missouri, the surviving victims of Mr. Bucklew’s crimes and others like them deserve better,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote in Bucklew vs. Precythe. “Under our Constitution, the question of capital punishment belongs to the people and their representatives, not the courts, to resolve.”

However, Justice Sonia Sotomayor challenged that a painful execution may set a dangerous precedent.

“There are higher values than ensuring executions run on time,” she wrote in one of two dissents filed by liberals. “If a death sentence or the manner in which it is carried out violates the Constitution, that stain can never come out.”

In 1996, after Bucklew's girlfriend tried to end their relationship he went on a violent rampage. When she escaped to a neighbor's house he shot and killed the neighbor and then beat the woman with a gun and raped her. Reportedly, after a shootout with the police, he escaped from jail and only to beat his girlfriend's mother with a hammer.

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