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It’s Like Rain on Bull Connor’s Wedding Day

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Under the scheme Republicans chose to try to re-disenfranchise felons, they may have inadvertently enfranchised voters only in the blue counties:

Following immense backlash from Democrats and civil rights advocates, though, legislators added a conciliatory section to their bill. It allowed courts to modify “the original sentencing order to no longer require completion” of the initial sentence. In other words, courts can waive fines and fees imposed as part of a sentence. By doing so, courts can clear the way for former felons to complete their sentences and immediately become eligible to vote.

To implement this section, Florida’s four most populous counties created “rocket dockets” to waive fines and fees en masse. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough—which, together, make up more than a third of the state’s population—launched programs to identify individuals who owe fines and fees and fast-track their cases to the courts. A judge then waives their financial obligations (except restitution to victims) and provides them with a court order declaring their sentences complete. This order reestablishes their right to vote. Courts, prosecutors, and public defenders all support these programs, and celebrity activist John Legend helped to publicize them by sitting in on a “rocket docket” session. Local officials provide individuals with voter registration forms as soon as their fines and fees are waived.

As WLRN pointed out on Sunday, these four counties’ swift action raises the possibility that Republicans’ plan to undercut Amendment 4 may backfire. There is little doubt that GOP legislators opposed the amendment because they feared it would disproportionately enfranchise Democrats. But their bill has led to a bizarre system in which Democraticcounties are reenfranchising their voters while Republican-majority counties are not. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough all overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. They are Democratic strongholds in a state with notoriously close elections. In 2016, Trump beat Clinton by about 113,000 votes. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade hopes to grant about 150,000 former felons the right to vote. The reenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in primarily Democratic counties may very well swing the 2020 election.

If the legislature doesn’t find some way to interfere again before 2020 and this holds up, LOL.

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