Florida felon voting rights restoration bill draws concerns

March 19, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Advocates who pushed for a constitutional amendment to restore most Florida felons’ voting rights are opposing a bill that sets terms for restoration.

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday on a 10-5 vote that defines what it means to complete a sentence. Republicans favored the bill while only Democrats opposed it.

Voters approved a ballot question in November that lets felons vote after completing their sentences. Advocates say the bill’s language is too restrictive, partly because it requires all civil fines and court costs to be paid before a sentence can be completed.

They said poor offenders may have difficulty paying.

Republican Rep. James Grant said the bill reflects the same conditions lawyers used while explaining the ballot question language to the state Supreme Court.

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