TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Florida voters passed Amendment 4 during the 2018 midterm elections, opting to restore the voting rights of felons who have completed their entire sentences. The amendment goes into effect Tuesday, and could affect nearly 1.5 million Floridians, like Coral Nichols.
Nichols was convicted of felony grand theft when she was 23 years old. She served five years in prison and now has just six months left on her 10 years of probation.
“It has completely been a 180, my faith has everything to do with it,” Nichols told FOX 13.
Today, she runs Empowered to Change, a diversion program aimed at helping people that are facing criminal charges.
“If I can change, anyone can change,” she said.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is her lack of ability to vote.
However, that too could change soon as Amendment 4 goes into effect Tuesday, Jan. 8.
“This has national implications as well, because of course Florida decided a presidential election by less than a 1,000 votes a few years ago," said FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick. "It shows how this can have an impact far beyond Florida."
“If somebody comes here, fills out a voter registration application, it requires a driver’s license number, an ID number, or the last numbers of their Social Security,” said Craig Latimer, supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County.
Nichols will have to wait until her probation is over. However, she is already looking forward to 2020.
“I’m a contributing member of society, I pay my taxes, I’m a law-abiding citizen," she said. "It means that my voice matters again."
Those who do want the opportunity to vote can register in person at an elections office, or online through their local supervisor of elections. To register online in your county, visit the Florida Division of Elections website.