Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

WSJ: Millions of Florida voters are unsure if they qualify to cast ballots

A 60-year-old man's voting rights are restored in a Miami-Dade County courtroom in Nov. 2019. Photo: Zak Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

Florida has given little guidance to election officials after the state restored voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million former felons last year, resulting in "widespread confusion," the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Floridians have until Feb. 18 to register to vote for the presidential primary in the critical swing state. Felons in the state are required to pay outstanding court fees and fines before casting ballots, per a bill that went into effect last year.

What's happening: Florida "has no centralized source that people can consult to determine whether they owe fees, fines or restitution," the WSJ reports, and many Floridians with felony records "fear running afoul of the law by registering to vote."

What they're saying: “It is a confusing, Byzantine morass,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told WSJ.

  • “We’re going to continue to do everything we can within our purview to get it right,” Rep. James Grant (R-Fla.) told WSJ.

Go deeper: The sticky web of felon voting laws

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,490,954 — Total deaths: 345,962 — Total recoveries — 2,228,915Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,662,250 — Total deaths: 98,218 — 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.
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Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Ocean City in New Jersey on May 25. Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Details: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, and there were crowded scenes in several places, notably at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri and at Daytona Beach and on the Gulf Coast in Florida, per AP. Police dispersed crowds in some places, ABC notes. But many Americans did take precautions against COVID-19 as they ventured outside for the long weekend, some three months after the pandemic began in the U.S.

Coronavirus stay-at-home orders crater voter registration efforts

A volunteer looks for persons wanting to register to vote on July 4, 2019 in Santa Fe, N.M. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is scuppering usual "get out the vote" efforts, leading to fears that large swaths of Americans could miss out on this year's elections.

What’s happening: Advocacy groups typically target college campuses, churches, festivals, fairs and other gatherings to seek out people who have yet to register, but many of those places are now closed. Voter registration efforts have largely moved to the internet, but advocates question whether that will be as effective as the person-to-person pitch.