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Florida royally screwed up re-enfranchisement of former convicts, so now they’re investigating ex-cons who voted

I’d say this can happen only in Florida, but in reality, it would happen wherever Republicans rule:  Florida fouled up the implementation of a state constitutional amendment passed overwhelming by voters that restores voting rights to thousands of former convicts so badly that scores of voters may have done so illegally, Politico reports.

Prompted by an investigation done by a conservative activist who compared voting rolls with sexual offender registries, Florida has opened up investigations in a number of counties to root out people who may have registered to vote and/or voted since 2018, when Florida voters passed Amendment 4, the Florida Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative.

After the overwhelming passage of the initiative, Florida Republicans set out to undermine the letter and spirit of the law.  They challenged the definition of someone who has completed their sentence, saying that outstanding court costs constitute a remainder of sentence that disqualifies people from voting; that ruling kept more than 900,000 people from voting

Celebrities and others, including former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, donated millions of dollars to pay off outstanding fines and costs that kept people from voting.

Unfortunately, as various court cases proceeded to determine the exact impact of the outstanding fines, many who thought their voting rights were restored registered to vote as was allowed under the plain language of the initiative.  Many of those people voted not knowing that Florida judges had again rescinded their voting rights.

In some areas, a person who was eligible to vote in the primaries based on the interpretation of the law at the time was later ruled ineligible to vote in the general election.  The final judgement in the case came in October 2020, just a month before the national general election and in an election cycle in which hundreds of thousands of people had exercised their newfound rights in primaries, but were ruled ineligible in the general.

Florida itself fucked this process up:  there was no definitive balance sheet to inform eligible ex-convicts what their outstanding debts were.  County records were different than state records, and even various departments at the county and state level disagreed on how much someone owed.  The Republican-led state refused to identify a standard, throwing the process into chaos and leaving those impacted without a path to a solution.

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