Florida moves to remove some felons from voter rolls, enforcing 2019 law, court ruling

A state law allows felons to vote, but not those with outstanding court debts.

Updated: October 16, 2020 - 5:03pm

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Florida is making additional efforts to remove felons with court debts from its voter rolls, an effort to meet the terms of a 2019 voting-rights law.

Florida voters in 2018 approved a ballot measure that ended a lifetime voting ban for most felons. But state legislators the following year limited that right to those people who have paid any court-ordered fees, fines and restitution, according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the new directive.

The state's Division of Elections director told Florida's 67 local election supervisors in an email late Tuesday that they would "begin to see" files on registered voters "whose potential ineligibility is based on not having satisfied the legal financial obligations of their sentence."

The email, obtained by Politico, also instructed supervisors to act on information from other sources, including court clerks, that raises eligibility questions. 

Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a Republican, released a written statement to Politico saying her office has a duty to enforce the 2019 law after it was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 6-4 decision last month.

What impact the directive could have on the presidential race is unclear, with Election Day now less than 20 days away. 

President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are in a close race in the swing state, which has 29 Electoral College votes. Trump won the state in 2016 with fewer than 113,000 votes.

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