FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — When Floridians overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing most felons to vote after completing their sentences, many expected Democrats to benefit most from the participation of up to 1.4 million newly eligible voters in this year’s election.
But the coronavirus pandemic, which has hampered registration drives, and a disputed requirement that felons pay a series of costs before their rights are restored have turned the anticipated geyser of new voters in the largest swing state into a trickle.
The state does not track how many felons — or “returning citizens” as many activists call them — have been registered since Amendment 4 passed in 2018, lifting a ban enacted following the Civil War. But Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the amendment’s main backer, puts the number at 100,000.
He hopes to add 40,000 more by the state’s Oct. 5 general election registration