Supreme Court to Florida: We Are Not Getting Involved

Which means felons still can't vote in the Sunshine State
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2020 2:00 PM CDT
Supreme Court to Florida: We Are Not Getting Involved
In this Jan. 8, 2019 file photo, former felon Desmond Meade and president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, left, fills out a voter registration form as his wife Sheena looks on at the Supervisor of Elections office in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Looks like Florida felons won't be voting in the 2020 primary election after all—and might not cast ballots in November, either. The Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 vote Thursday not to review a decision by a federal appeals court that blocks hundreds of thousands of state felons from voting, the Washington Post reports. Three liberal justices dissented, with Sonia Sotomayor arguing that this "prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor." But the order must be pleasing Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose lawyers said Tuesday that "all Floridians will be irreparably harmed" if "hundreds of thousands of ineligible voters [are allowed] to take part in the upcoming elections," per NBC Miami.

The reenfranchisement of Florida felons has been a hot issue since more than 65% of voters approved Amendment 4 in 2018, allowing most felons to vote—except those convicted of felony sexual offenses or murder. About 85,000 felons have registered since, but DeSantis signed a law in 2019 mandating that felons pay restitution, fees, and fines before voting. A US district judge ruled against the law, calling it "an administrative nightmare" and a "pay-to-vote system," but the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit blocked the judge and slated a hearing for Aug. 18—the day of Florida's primary. The issue could prove key in the perrennial swing state, which has roughly 775,000 felons who have done their prison time, per USA Today. (More voting stories.)

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