In Florida, there isn’t much stopping a convicted felon from registering to vote. The state is now trying to change that.
In 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 4, allowing non-violent felons to automatically have their voting rights restored. Before, they would have to appeal to the state on a case-by-case basis. The state expected that to affect about a million people.
According to the Sentencing Project, about 7 percent of Florida adults were disenfranchised in 2016. That same population accounted for 27 percent nationwide.
Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law making it harder for felons to register to vote. The law mentions a convicted felon’s completion of a sentence would have to include paying off all outstanding court costs and restitution. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled the idea was unconstitutional, calling it a “poll tax.”
The difference in the number of voters can affect elections in a battleground state like Florida.
“For the august election, in the past, it’s run at about 20% turnout,” said Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County’s Supervisor of Elections.
“That’s stayed consistent. So 20 percent of a larger number will have more people voting.”
When it comes to exactly how many people this can affect locally, the Supervisor of Elections says it’s hard to break that down.
“There’s really not a way for us to know how many that is,” she said. “So it’s a little hard when people ask how is this affecting your county. We really don’t know.”
The state is also asking the case to be expedited; typically, appeals are heard by a three-judge panel, then a full court. Lawyers are asking for a full court to hear this appeal.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear arguments on the matter starting the week of August 10th, according to the News Service Florida.