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Florida Governor Rick Scott. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the process by which Florida grants or denies former felons the right to vote after completing their sentence violates the U.S. Constitution.

Why it matters: Florida is one of four states to constitutionally prohibit ex-felons from voting, giving only the governor the power to restore their voting rights. The policy affects an estimated 1.5 million convicted felons in a state that bans more people from voting than any other.

What this means: U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker did not immediately restore voting rights to ex-felons. Walker ordered further briefing from both parties on the appropriate remedy. His ruling came without a trial.

  • In his 43-page ruling, Walker took aim at the restoration process he said unfairly relies on the personal support of Gov. Rick Scott. Former felons have to apply for their voting rights to considered. This comes with a waiting period of 5 to 8 years.

The backdrop: This comes more than a week after the state approved a referendum allowing Florida voters to decide in November whether to restore voting rights to some convicted felons. If passed with at least 60% approval, it has the potential to shift the makeup of the country’s largest swing state.

Go deeper: Read the court ruling here; The decades-long fight for Florida's ex-felons to regain voting rights

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
4 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.