SHALIMAR — It was a quiet Tuesday for voter registration along the Emerald Coast despite Amendment 4 taking effect to allow convicted felons to register to vote.
At the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Office in Shalimar, two ex-felons showed up before 11 a.m. excited to sign up to vote, employees said.
Elections office employee Kim Williams said one man was born in 1958 and the other was fairly young. One of the men had been convicted 13 years ago.
They were two of more than 1.4 million Floridians who have had their voting rights restored by the amendment's approval.
Sixteen ex-felons had registered to vote in Okaloosa County and Walton County as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Office said one person registered to vote, but it was not known if that person was an ex-felon.
In Florida, constitutional amendments take effect the first Tuesday following the first Monday in January. Election supervisors were required to process voter registration applications beginning Tuesday.
However, Florida legislators will take a closer look at the "tricky" amendment, which could result in some new voters being removed from registration rolls, said Paul Lux, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.
On the ballot Amendment 4 stated, “This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.” However, the amendment fails to specify what “all terms” means, Lux said.
Amendment 4 also omits felons convicted of murder and sexual offenses from regaining their voting rights, but fails to name specific charges like manslaughter, vehicular homicide and prostitution, he said.
“Someone somewhere has to figure out what these mean,” Lux said.
With Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration taking office, Lux said Amendment 4 will take some time to address.
“It’s unfortunate timing-wise it’s been implemented when it has,” Lux said.