Image Credits : Stock Photo
Source: Washington Post
By: Editorial Board April 28, 2020
NEARLY TWO-THIRDS of Florida voters backed a state constitutional amendment 18 months ago to re-enfranchise released felons, an overwhelming bipartisan consensus that was promptly negated by Republican legislators. Those state lawmakers, determined to block ballot access to hundreds of thousands of Floridians — most of them white but a disproportionate share African American — now face their day in court in a lawsuit brought by the very citizens whose most basic civil rights they have tried to deny.
As Florida Republicans try to run out the clock ahead of the November presidential election, a trial started Monday in federal court in which former felons who have completed their sentences, including parole and probation, are contesting the GOP’s attempt to overturn the results of Florida’s 2018 referendum. They should prevail: The GOP action is an affront to the popular will. An estimated 1.4 million released felons in Florida, nearly 10 percent of the state’s voting-age population, were prohibited from voting as of 2016 — the highest number and percentage in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project. Among that cohort were a half-million African Americans, 20 percent of the state’s voting-age blacks.