Shareblue.com by Emily Singer
May 21, 2019
Florida Republicans snuck a provision into a bill that would block the public from tracking the state’s progress in restoring voting rights.
In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment granting felons who completed their sentences the right to vote — a move that would make roughly 1.4 million new people eligible to cast ballots in the state.
But despite the fact that roughly two-thirds of voters chose to restore those rights, Republicans have been desperately trying to find ways to keep disenfranchising ex-felons — many of them black voters who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and thus could impact the GOP’s stranglehold on the state.
Already, Florida Republicans have instituted what amounts to a poll tax on former felons. And now, on Tuesday, state GOP lawmakers snuck a provision into a bill that would shield the public from accessing records of how many have had their voting rights restored, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The provision was pitched as a way to keep the group from being harassed. However, it will also have the consequence of making it impossible for reporters or other members of the public from accessing data to see if felons are, in fact, having their rights restored as they should be — creating the possibility for hijinks and attempts to continue to keep them from the voting booth.
Prior to the felon reenfranchisement bill, the only way for former felons to get their voting rights back was to apply for clemency from the governor five years after completing their prison sentences.