Florida will seek to remove people with felony records from voter rolls if they have outstanding court debts, a surprise, late-hour move that comes after more than two million people already have voted in the presidential battleground, reports Politico. The announcement drew pushback from county election supervisors and suspicion from Democrats who say it could be used to challenge the eventual election results. Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews told local election supervisors they would “begin to see” files on registered voters “whose potential ineligibility is based on not having satisfied the legal financial obligations of their sentence.” The message email also instructed supervisors to act on information from other sources, including court clerks, that raises eligibility questions.
The move is aimed at meeting the terms of a 2019 law on felon voting rights. Florida voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, a ballot measure that ended a lifetime voting ban for most felons. Then state legislators limited that right to those people who have paid any court-ordered fees, fines and restitution. With less than three weeks until Election Day, millions of Floridians already have mailed or dropped off ballots, and early voting sites are scheduled to open Monday. Democratic attorney Mark Herron said the state action could be used by the Trump campaign to challenge election results. Joe Biden campaign spokesperson Carlie Waibel said, “Plain and simple: this is voter suppression.”