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Thu May 28, 2020, 11:24 PM

A judge says the GOP can't keep Florida felons from voting. But lawmakers will keep trying.

Source: Washington Post

A judge says the GOP can’t keep Florida felons from voting. But lawmakers will keep trying.

By Editorial Board
5/28/2020, 6:18:54 p.m.

A FEDERAL JUDGE drove what should be the final nail in the coffin for the plainly unconstitutional, Republican-crafted state law requiring former felons to pay all fees and fines arising from their convictions before they can vote. That measure, Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled Sunday, is a “pay-to-vote system,” tantamount to a poll tax and, therefore, a violation of the 24th Amendment.

It would be nice to think that the judge’s decision would be the end of the story. It should grant access to the ballot to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who remain disenfranchised, even though they have completed their prison terms and paid their debt to society. The reality is that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers in Tallahassee are likely to continue trying to suppress voting by poor and minority citizens, who tend to favor Democrats, and are disproportionately represented among those who have been in prison. More legal and political battles lie ahead, and the outcome may be critical in a state with a history of tight elections.

Florida’s law, signed a year ago by Mr. DeSantis, is an Orwellian rule that contravenes the popular will. It is Orwellian because neither the state nor individual localities in Florida maintain comprehensive records of outstanding court debts, meaning that ex-convicts who try to ascertain what they owe have no reliable means of doing so — but still risk prosecution if they register to vote without having paid up. And it is heedless of nearly two-thirds of Florida voters, who in 2018 backed a state constitutional amendment automatically restoring the vote to most former felons when they complete their terms.

Sensing an electoral threat from allowing ballot access to so many new voters, Republicans promptly negated the outcome of the referendum. They did so in the knowledge that many former felons owe $1,000 or more in various court-related costs — charges for public defenders, medical care in prison, even surcharges for nonpayments — and few have the means to pay those costs. As part of his decision, Judge Hinkle ruled that an applicant’s inability to pay cannot be used to disqualify him from voting.

In the eight-day trial, state officials acknowledged that the record-keeping mess poses what is generally an insurmountable obstacle for applicants who would try to pay what they owe in order to recover their voting rights. That, the judge said, violates former felons’ due process rights.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-judge-says-the-gop-cant-keep-florida-felons-from-voting-but-lawmakers-will-keep-trying/2020/05/28/dc653f6e-a056-11ea-9590-1858a893bd59_story.html

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Reply A judge says the GOP can't keep Florida felons from voting. But lawmakers will keep trying. (Original post)
Eugene May 2020 OP
Gothmog May 2020 #1

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2020, 02:20 AM

1. Great editorial

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