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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Florida can order ex-felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote.

Why it matters: The decision comes less than eight weeks before the November elections, potentially jeopardizing voter registration for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

  • Critics of the law argue that such a requirement would amount to a poll tax and discriminate against felons who cannot afford to pay.

What they're saying: "Court costs and fees are legitimate parts of a criminal sentence—that is, part of the debt to society that felons must pay for their crimes—there is no basis to regard them as a tax," the 200-page decision reads.

  • "To be sure, one purpose of fees and costs is to raise revenue, but that does not transform them from criminal punishment into a tax. Every financial penalty raises revenue for the government, sometimes considerable revenue."
  • "The Due Process Clause does not require States to provide individual process to help citizens learn the facts necessary to comply with laws of general application."

The big picture: The 11th Circuit agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in May sided with the challengers and ruled that the expenses imposed on ex-felons were unconstitutional.

Go deeper

Trump campaign loses yet another legal challenge in Pennsylvania

The president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani (center) has led legal efforts to cast doubt on election results, but few have succeeded. Photo: BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty

Philadelphia did not violate the law by restricting poll observers' proximity to ballots, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a blow to the Trump campaign Tuesday.

Why it matters: This development comes after President Trump's defeat in a string of court battles, which his campaign wielded in several states in attempts to discredit President-elect Biden's election victory.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.