Oct 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

67,000 felons registered to vote after Florida restored their rights

Illustration of an older hand handing I Voted stickers to a younger hand.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

67,000 people registered to vote after Florida restored voting rights to most felons in a 2018 ballot initiative, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Election results in the battleground state — which previously instituted a lifetime voting ban for people with felony convictions — could come down to these 67,000 votes. But the number still falls well short of the 1.4 million people that community organizers hoped to register.

The big picture: In 2018, shortly after voters said yes to the Amendment 4 ballot initiative, GOP legislators passed a law requiring people with felonies to pay off all outstanding court debts before they can vote. Activists challenged the law, but the Supreme Court declined to intervene over the summer.

  • A University of Florida study found that nearly 775,000 people eligible to vote under Amendment 4 owed court debts.
  • Critics called the GOP law a “modern-day poll tax.” Black Americans are disproportionately overrepresented in prisons.

What they’re saying: "There is no doubt in my mind that there are thousands upon thousands of energized and inspired returning citizens throughout the state that will not be denied, that will be a voice, and will have an impact in determining who wins Florida,” Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, told reporters on Monday.

Go deeper: Restoring the vote to Americans with felony records

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