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Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

The big picture: Floridians approved a constitutional amendment in the 2018 midterm elections that would automatically restore voting rights to ex-felons who have completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole," except for those convicted of murder or sex crimes.

  • Soon after the ballot vote, Republican lawmakers in Florida passed a bill that defines "all terms" to include all fines, fees and restitution connected to a conviction, arguing it was necessary to clarify the amendment.
  • A class action lawsuit quickly followed as activists argued that the law made it virtually impossible for ex-felons to vote due to financial reasons or because the state offered them no way to know what needed to be paid, per the Washington Post.

What they're saying: U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle likened the law to the poll tax banned by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, and ordered Florida to tell felons whether they are eligible to vote and what they owe.

Read the ruling.

Go deeper

Aug 24, 2020 - Health

Florida judge strikes down order to reopen schools for in-person classes

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Florida State University on Aug. 11. Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

A Florida judge on Monday struck down an emergency order from the Florida Department of Education that would have required all schools to reopen for in-person learning this month, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Why it matters: Leon County Judge Charles Dodson ruled that Florida had "essentially ignored the requirement of school safety" in pushing to reopen schools and that the state's order overrode school boards' constitutional authority to make decisions for their school systems, per the Times.

Pentagon approves request for 100 National Guard troops for "Justice for J6" rally

Security fencing has been reinstalled around the Capitol. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from Capitol Police to provide 100 D.C. National Guard troops in case law enforcement requires additional support at Saturday's "Justice for J6" rally at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Security preparations have ramped up ahead of the pro-Trump demonstration, where hundreds of protesters sympathetic to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are expected to gather.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State Departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.