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'Procedural nightmare': Thousands of Florida felons unsure if they'll be able to vote

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Posted at 8:51 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 20:51:56-04

Tampa, Fla. -- A federal appeals court has halted a lower court ruling granting hundreds of thousands of felons the right to vote. The ruling could have huge implications for the upcoming presidential race.

RELATED: Florida felons seeking voting rights back face court setback

As elections near, there is no date scheduled yet for when the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will decide the case.

The appeals case sets up another showdown between Governor Ron DeSantis, who wants felons to pay all fines and fees before they cast a ballot, and voting rights advocates, who say those fees are equivalent to a poll tax.

Jonathan Diaz, legal counsel for Campaign Legal Center which is representing felons, told I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern the ruling puts the state in what he calls a “procedural nightmare” because the state does not track which felons have paid off all fines and fees and are therefore eligible to vote.

“The counties don’t have any guidance from the state. The state is crawling along at a snail's pace, unable to tell people if they are eligible or not, and thousands of Floridians are left in the lurch, unsure if they will be able to vote this fall,” said Diaz.

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The I-Team contacted the state’s Division of Elections to ask what the ruling means for Supervisors of Elections and felons who already registered to vote or want to register.

A spokesperson responded in an email, only saying, “We are in receipt of the order and are reviewing our next steps.”

FULL CIRCLE: Should former felons be forced to pay old court debts before having voting rights restored?

It’s unclear whether Florida will put a system in place to tell felons, whether they have paid all fines and fees, and can participate in the presidential election before the October 5 deadline to register to vote.