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Human Rights Win Out in US Election

Voters Show they Care about the Rights of Marginalized Communities

Leroy Jones, who was formerly incarcerated, joins other demonstrators, Wednesday, April 9, 2003, where the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments on vote restoration for people with prior felony convictions. 15 years later, the passing of Amendment 4 has restored the right to vote to 1.4 million Floridians.   © 2003 J. Pat Carter/AP Photo

The 2018 midterm elections showed people resoundingly voted in favor of protecting human rights in America, showing they care about the rights of the most disenfranchised and marginalized communities from coast to coast.

In Florida, more than 60 percent of voters chose to restore the right to vote to more than 1.4 million people convicted on felony charges. The ballot initiative will empower those who have served their time to speak out and have their voices heard in their community.

Oregon retained its pioneering human rights law, as its voters choose to protect the state’s 31-year-old sanctuary law that prohibits the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law if the person’s only crime is being in the US without the proper papers.

In Massachusetts, a huge majority voted “Yes” on proposition 3, upholding a state law that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in businesses, restaurants, hotels, and public spaces. In the face of stereotypes and fear it’s a powerful affirmation that transgender rights will not be erased.

Voters in Louisiana approved Amendment 2, eliminating a Jim Crow-era law that allowed non-unanimous jury decisions in felony trials to dilute the effect of black jurors, and leaving Oregon as the only state to keep split juries. This shows that even in conservative states voters respond to campaigns to undo the systemic racism behind laws such as non-unanimous juries. The measure was backed by progressive and conservative forces in a state where, since Reconstruction, most defendants are disproportionately African American and jurors are disproportionately white.

The election results show that voters agree the law should be used to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.

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