Months after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons, the Republican-controlled legislature is moving to roll back parts of the measure, Politico reports. A House committee approved a bill would restrict voting eligibility by type of criminal conviction and require people to pay any court costs, fines or fees before their sentence can be considered “complete” and their rights are restored.
Democrats likened the financial requirement to a poll tax that forced residents to pay to register to vote. Republicans argued that the bill, which is expected to have a Senate companion measure soon, merely clears up ambiguities in the voter-passed amendment. Florida’s constitution previously stripped voting rights from convicted felons. At stake are the voting rights of more than a million Floridians — and possibly the U.S. presidency, considering the state’s battleground status. In January, local election supervisors began accepting voter registration forms from state residents previously considered ineligible to vote. But they’ve left it to the Department of State to determine whether or not a registrant was newly eligible under the amendment.