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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

37 mins ago - Health

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Healthcare workers getting COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 16, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

National Guard soldiers posted on a street corner near downtown. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

2 hours ago - World

Russian authorities say Navalny has been transferred to prison hospital

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a hospital in another penal colony, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.