Flagged voter lists to include felons with court debts

Florida elections officials this week told local supervisors of elections that convicted felons with outstanding court-ordered debts will be included in lists of flagged voters who should potentially be removed from the rolls.

The move came more than a year after the passage of a controversial state law requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” — fines, fees, costs and restitution — associated with their convictions to be eligible to vote.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the law to implement a 2018 constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to felons “upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole and probation,” excluding murderers and felony sex offenders.

Voting-rights groups challenged the constitutionality of the 2019 law, likening it to imposing a “poll tax” on felons seeing to vote. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month sided with Gov. Ron DeSantis and overturned a federal district judge’s May ruling that found the law was unconstitutional.

Under a process that’s long been in place, state elections officials screen voter-registration applications for eligibility and send lists of flagged people to county supervisors of elections. Local officials have the authority to remove ineligible people from the voting rolls.

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