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Federal trial to determine felon voting rights in Florida wraps up

Posted at 4:38 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 20:16:51-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's a decision that will impact the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and our election for years to come.

The federal trial, held over a conference call to respect social distancing, wrapped up Wednesday but the court denied I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern's request to record any audio of what happened.

Wednesday's historic trial will decide whether Florida felons can vote before they have paid off all court fines and fees.

The ruling will impact the voting rights of about hundreds of thousands of Florida felons leading up to the November 2020 election. For Florida, which is dubbed by many as a "swing state," those votes could shake up both the presidential election and the local ballots.


It’s unclear how long the ruling will take but already, Judge Robert Hinkle has raised issues with the state’s case, saying there is still no system in place to even track how much a felon still owes in order to register to vote.

Daniel Tilley, the ACLU of Florida legal director, told the I-Team of the state’s arguments, “You hear a lot about — well, we’re working on a process, at some point there will be something in place, the system works most of the time — the system doesn’t work. And it impacts actual human beings. Some of our clients testified in this case about the real impact of not being able to vote, to participate in democracy.”

The I-Team contacted the attorney for Gov. DeSantis for comment, but have not yet heard back.

Whoever loses is expected to appeal the judge’s decision.

The public was able to listen in, but unable to record the audio of the proceedings.

But that’s not the case in the nation’s highest court. For the first time ever on Monday, the Supreme Court began posting audio filed of cases it’s hearing.

The I-Team is pushing for answers on why federal courts won’t allow recordings of what’s happening in local trials as court houses remain shut during the pandemic.