Cable networks aid Florida felons voting effort
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An effort to pay court-ordered costs for felons who have served their time behind bars is getting a $250,000 boost from MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, the cable networks announced on Friday. The donation by ViacomCBS, the parent company of the networks, came a week after the 11th U.S. Friday’s announcement by the networks coincided with the first “National Black Voter Day,” ViacomCBS said in a news release. About a third of the state’s 1.4 million convicted felons who are unable to vote are Black, the release said. The effort to wipe out felons' fines and fees has attracted other high-profile aid, including contributions by NBA star LeBron James, former NBA star Michael Jordan and Florida professional sports teams.
Appeals court rules Florida ex-felons can’t vote until they pay fines, fees. How could that impact election?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida ex-felons must pay all fines, restitution and legal fees before they can regain their right to vote, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. Now questions are swirling about whether this will have much of an effect on the November election in Florida. Dr. Michael Binder, UNF associate professor of political science, said data shows ex-felons could have tended to vote more Democratic. He said that while there is some data that shows ex-felons may vote more on the Democratic side, a large number register as no party affiliation. Binder said he doesn’t expect any further court rulings on this issue before the November election.
Appeals court: Florida can bar ex-felons from voting until they pay up
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Florida can bar ex-felons from voting if they owe court fines or fees associated with their convictions, even if they are unable to pay. The 6-4 ruling by the full 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling blocking the law. Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in the majority opinion that the state law doesn’t constitute a poll tax. Friday’s ruling was the latest high-stakes challenges to a 2019 Florida law requiring felons to pay court-ordered “legal financial obligations” -- fees, fines, costs and restitution -- associated with their convictions to be eligible to vote. President George W. Bush appointed Pryor, and former President Bill Clinton appointed Judge Charles Wilson.
Morgan touts effort to help felons pay legal debts
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Orlando attorney John Morgan and his firm Morgan & Morgan launched a fundraising campaign Monday to help felons regain the right to vote. As part of an effort to help the Florida Rights Restoration Coalitions Fines and Fees Fund, Morgan announced he will match the first $100,000 in donations to his Voice for Voters campaign. The money is expected to help felons pay court-ordered financial obligations that keep them from completing all terms of their sentences after they are released from prison. More than 65 percent of Florida voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences. Last month, former Miami Heat superstar LeBron James committed $100,000 to the coalition, and Morgan at the time tweeted he was willing to match the effort.
Judges refuse to step aside in felons voting fight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Two federal judges who formerly served on the Florida Supreme Court have refused to step aside from a voting-rights case that could determine whether hundreds of thousands of convicted felons are eligible to cast ballots in the November presidential election. Lagoa and Luck were involved in litigation about the felons-voting issue last year while serving on the Florida Supreme Court before joining the Atlanta-based appeals court. The opinion of the state Supreme Court, as the name suggests, is advisory only, they added. In addition to Luck, Lagoa and Brasher, the president also tapped Judges Kevin Newsom, Elizabeth Branch and Britt Grant. Former President Barack Obama appointed Judges Beverly Martin, Adalberto Jordan, Jill Pryor and Rosenbaum.
Judges targeted for disqualification in Florida felons case
Ron DeSantis to serve on the Florida Supreme Court shortly after he took office in 2019. The code of conduct governing federal judges also requires disqualification when judges participated, in a prior judicial position, concerning the litigation, the lawyers added. As Hinkle was considering the voting-rights litigation last year, DeSantis asked the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the issue. This is plainly a case involving the Supreme Court of Florida while Judge Lagoa was a member of (that) court, the attorneys wrote. One of the 12 federal judges on the Atlanta-based appeals court, Robin Rosenbaum, already has disqualified herself from the Florida case.