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Florida Republicans vote to strip most felons of voting rights unless they pay "poll tax"

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21.03.2019

Republicans on a key Florida state house committee voted to approve a bill that would strip most ex-felons of their voting rights -- even after the state's voters passed an initiative to restore them.

In November, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to about 1.4 million former convicted felons. The amendment required “automatic” restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation” except those “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.”

On Tuesday, Republicans on the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted to approve a bill requiring felons to pay any outstanding fines or fees before they can have their voting rights restored. It was a move critics like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., quickly labeled a “poll tax.”

Proponents of the amendment say that the text is clear: Amendment 4 specifically noted that voting rights would automatically be restored after completing not just prison but also probation and parole. The text did not mention anything about fees. Such fees are not ordered by judges but........

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