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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday ordered the state’s executive clemency board to establish new rules to decide how and when former felons can get their voting rights restored.

The details: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker gave state officials until April 26 to introduce a new process. His permanent injunction blocks the state's current system that forces ex-felons to wait up to eight years before they can apply to restore their voting rights. Walker did not specify what measures the state must implement, but emphasized that changes "must be robust and meaningful."

The backdrop: This comes almost two months after Walker ruled that the current system crafted by Gov. Rick Scott's administration was unconstitutional and driven by politics. The state’s constitution automatically prohibits felons from voting after completing their sentence, but they can seek restoration of rights in front of Florida’s Executive Clemency Board, which is comprised of Scott and three elected Cabinet members.

  • The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the Fair Elections Legal Network, a voting rights group, on behalf of nine former felons to overturn the ban. An estimated 1.5 million Floridians have been permanently disenfranchised due to felony convictions.

John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, defended the current process in a statement saying, “We will review the court’s ruling. Officials elected by Floridians, not judges, have the authority to determine Florida’s clemency process for convicted felons." He said the Republican governor believes ex-felons "should demonstrate that they can live a life free of crime while being accountable to our communities."

In November, Florida voters will decide on a ballot initiative to automatically 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: The decades-long fight for Florida's ex-felons to regain voting rights

This story has been updated to include a statement from the governor's spokesman.

Go deeper

Read: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's last message

Photo courtesy of Mondale.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale wrote a farewell letter to his staff, sent upon his death on Monday, thanking them for years working together.

Dear Team,

Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!

Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.

Joe in the White House certainly helps.

I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!

My best to all of you!

Fritz

Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at 93

Walter Mondale, left, with former President Jimmy Carter in Jan. 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's campus in Minneapolis. Photo: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Walter Mondale, who transformed the role of U.S. vice president while serving under Jimmy Carter and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, died Monday at 93, according to a family spokesperson.

The big picture: President Biden, who was mentored by Mondale through the years, said in 2015 that the former vice president gave him a "roadmap" to successfully take on the job.

Scoop: U.S. ambassador refuses Kremlin push to leave Russia

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The United States ambassador to Russia is refusing to leave the country after the Kremlin "advised" him to return home following new Biden administration sanctions, two sources briefed on the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Sullivan, a respected diplomat who President Biden has, so far, retained from the Trump era, is at the center of one of the most important early tests of Biden's resolve.