Think Florida Is Making Ex-Felons Pay To Vote? It's Worse Than That
Credit: @bluegal (Photoshop)
September 21, 2020

You may recall that Florida Republicans circumvented the will of their people, who voted in 2018 to allow ex-felons (except murderers and sex-offenders) to vote once they were released from prison.

The Republican legislature and governor found a loophole: those ex-felons also had to pay their court costs and fines in order to be eligible for voting.

But Florida has no database or billing structure in place to tell ex-felons what they owe, and finding out may take years of "research."

As a result, Florida is sitting on the 58,000 requests they have received from ex-felons for voting rights. ALL of them.

Any effort by a billionaire to "pay off the fines" so those affected can vote this year? What if no one in the state can tell Michael Bloomberg what the final bill is?

Pamela Karlan at The New York Review of Books (paywall) writes:

What’s worse, many former offenders have no way to find out how much they owe (and face criminal prosecution if they register and vote without paying the full amount). A federal district judge found, after a lengthy trial, that Florida’s system for determining the amounts owed was so plagued by intractable administrative problems that it violated the US Constitution. The judge pointed to testimony regarding the efforts of “a professor specializing in this field with a team of doctoral candidates from a major research university” who unsuccessfully spent weeks trying to obtain this information for “153 randomly selected felons.” And staff members with “combined experience of over 100 years” in one county clerk’s office spent some fifteen hours “bulldog[ing]” the circumstances of a single aspiring voter to figure out the amount owed.

The court emphasized that, based on the state’s own estimates, the projected completion date for reviewing the obligations of only the 85,000 former offenders who had currently pending registration applications would be “early in 2026. With a flood of additional registrations expected in this presidential election year, the anticipated completion date might well be pushed into the 2030s.” But a federal court of appeals—on which five of the ten judges hearing the case are Trump appointees—issued a one-sentence order staying the district court’s injunction that left the pay-before-you-can-vote provision in place while the case works its way through the system. And the US Supreme Court left that stay in place, again in a one-sentence order, with Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissenting. So if Trump wins Florida’s electoral votes and those votes are essential to his winning the election, his victory will be tainted.

So the Court of Appeals that could fix this, is half Trump appointees, and three of them, according to The Washington Post, are "on President Trump’s list of possible Supreme Court picks should he win a second term."

The Washington Post editorial board wrote last Tuesday that 'The Supreme Court must step in to stop Florida Republicans from disenfranchising voters."

Then we lost RBG.

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