Mar 27, 2018

Federal judge orders voting changes for Florida ex-felons

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.

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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,498,849 — Total deaths: 346,306 — Total recoveries — 2,233,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,662,768 — Total deaths: 98,223 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

LATAM Airlines files for U.S. chapter 11 bankruptcy

A LATAM air attendant aboard one of the company's planes in March. Photo: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

LATAM Airlines Group SA said in a statement early Tuesday the firm and its affiliates in in the United States, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.