Florida Felons Are Getting Their Votes Back

A federal lawsuit that will determine whether former felons in Florida are eligible to vote is going to trial.

At the heart of the case is a Florida law passed that require residents with felony convictions pay off all their legal financial obligations before casting a ballot.

Convicted felons in Florida had their voting rights restored in 2018. The GOP passed a bill that clarified "all terms of sentence" to include legal financial obligations such as fines, fees and restitution.

A number of groups filed a flurry of legal challenges arguing the new law was unconstitutional and amounted to a "poll tax."

"By hinging whether or not you can vote on whether or not you've completed your payment of legal financial obligations, that's akin to a poll tax," Campaign Legal Center attorney Mark Gaber said.

The case became a class action lawsuit paving the way for more than 430,000 felons who would be eligible to vote, but for unpaid financial obligations.

The state's attorneys claim they will lay out a system throughout the trial for which "felons are not precluded from voting based only on inability to pay."

The trial comes just as the deadline to register to vote in the state's August primary election is July 20.

"I don't know how long it will take the judge, but because this affects the November election and because of the possibility that the state could try and appeal this again, I do expect that he'll rule relatively swiftly," Gaber said.

Photos by Getty Images

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