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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

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”