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US mid-terms: Florida restores voting rights to ex-convicts

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While the focus of the US mid-term has been on hugely important to their neighborhoods, Americans were also "hugely important to their neighborhoods.

In Florida, those who served served time in prison regained the right to vote; in San Francisco, a controversial tax on business. Abortion, marijuana and transgender rights were thus on the ballot.

Here are some of the highlights:

San Francisco's tax on tech

Voters in the Californian city have voted in favor of Proposition C – a controversial measure supporters say they help the city solve its crippling homelessness crisis.

It will bring in an estimated $ 250m- $ 300m (£ 190m- £ 228m) a year in added taxes from around 400 of the city's biggest companies to exploit the problem.

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There are 7,000 homeless people in San Francisco

Naturally, this means the measure has dominated this part of the world – firms that are often blamed for driving up living costs.

More than $ 7m was spent on campaigning; the majority ($ 5.7m) backed the measure.

Prop C's biggest supporter was Marc Benioff, the charismatic chief executive of Salesforce – a firm which would be among those taxed. Benioff, who most likely has political ambitions of his own, backed the campaign with $ 1m of his own money.

Those against the bill include Twitter's Jack Dorsey, who is engaged in public debates with Benioff about the merits of the plan on, where else, Twitter.

Perhaps surprisingly, one critic of the tax was the city's mayor, London Breed. She cited a lack of adequate accountability for existing funds to fight homelessness as a reason not to gather even more.

But, it passed. The money wants to go to things like rent subsidies, permanent housing help, hygiene measures and more. It will not solve the problem of homelessness overnight, but as a majority of San Francisco voters are concerned – it's a start.

Abortion on the ballot

Initiatives that rights groups have the abortion were on the ballot in Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia.

Voters in Alabama and West Virginia approved amendments to their state constitutions that could restrict access to abortions for women.

Alabama approved by a clear margin that makes it a state policy to "recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children".

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The results of West Virginia and Alabama are a win for pro-lifers

The margin was narrower in West Virginia, where people approved an amendment that says "nothing in this constitution secures or protects the right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion". The measure eliminates federal money, and could impact women in low incomes.

Voters in Oregon appear to have a similar measure of abatement, according to partial returns.

Women's rights groups approved by Alabama and West Virginia could be a full ban on abortions in these states if the conservative-majority supreme court overturned the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

Voting rights for Florida's ex-convicts

An estimated 1.2 million Florida residents who served time in prison have ruled the right to vote, thanks to the passage of a new constitutional constitutional amendment.

Amendment 4 received 65% of the vote, according to the Miami Herald, changing 150-year-old language in the state's constitution.

Previously, Florida what one of just four states in the US that would automatically and permanently revoked. They could seek clemency, but needed to wait five years until their release and then apply to the governor's office. Since 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott has just given the vote back to about 2,000 people.

To be eligible now, former prisoners must have completed their sentences and all the terms of their release, including probation. 1 million Floridians who have served in prison and are currently seeking a job.

A cross-party, grassroots coalition gathered about 800,000 signatures to get the November 6 ballot. The measure needed 60% to pass.

150 years ago, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, as a means to prevent African Americans from voting.

Supporters of the amendment argue for months that they are in a position to vote in favor of the United States. They also argued that such laws disproportionately impact African Americans.

John Black is the New Black author Piper Kerman.

Transgender rights in Massachusetts

Voters in Massachusetts approved a measure that provides protection for transgender and non-binary people – making it the first state in the US to do so.

They agreed to uphold a law, first signed in 2016, that forbids discrimination on the basis of gender in public places.

Legalizing cannabis

Voters in four states were asked to decide on the legalization of cannabis – recreational use in Michigan and North Dakota, and for medical use in Utah and Missouri.

North Dakotans had voted against legalizing the drug.

If the result is confirmed, Michigan will become the first US Midwest state to allow over the age of 21 to both possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. It wants to levy a 10% sales tax on business selling the drug.

Utah's measure allows privately-owned chemists to sell cannabis to people with qualifying illnesses while in Missouri, who have been given permission to grow their own cannabis for medicinal use.

Thirty-one US states have now legalized cannabis for medicinal use, while nine states have approved it for recreational use.


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