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The Last-Ditch Effort to Stop Florida’s Century-Old Campaign of Racist Disenfranchisement

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21.07.2020

Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, fills out a voter registration form as his wife Sheena looks on.John Raoux/AP

The Supreme Court struck a major blow against voting rights in Florida last week when it let stand a lower court decision that blocked as many as 1.4 million people who had previously been convicted of felonies from casting ballots until they pay all fines, court fees, and restitution. While the decision leaves intact a major financial barrier to voting, activists in the state are now banking on public support to help people pay down their legal debts and return to civic life.

The Supreme Court’s decision centers around Florida’s longstanding felon-disenfranchisement policy, which—as my colleague Ari Berman reported in 2018—has an ugly, racist history and can apply to people convicted of relatively minor crimes:

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Florida disenfranchises more citizens than Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee combined. Ten percent of the state’s adult population is ineligible to vote because of a criminal record, including 1 in 5 African Americans. Florida counts 533 different infractions as felonies, including crimes like disturbing a lobster trap and trespassing on a construction site. “Come on Vacation,........

© Mother Jones


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