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Neil Volz (left) and Lance Wissinger are among the Florida felons who may need to pay fines before voting. But according to research by American Oversight, the state may not be able to track who owes money and how much they owe.

If payments are required for voting, Florida should know what felons owe. It doesn't.

Silvestre is on the communications staff of American Oversight, a progressive ethics watchdog group.

Despite a federal court ruling it is unconstitutional to bar people with prior felony convictions from voting if they cannot pay off their legal fees, most formerly incarcerated Floridians were excluded from this year's presidential primary.

After nearly two-thirds of Florida's voters approved a 2018 ballot measure to restore voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated citizens, the Republican-run Legislature wrote a law requiring them to first pay all their court-imposed fines, fees and restitution.

The resulting legal battle — between what the voters want and what the politicians in charge in Tallahassee want — may last beyond the presidential election, when the state's 29 votes are the third biggest Electoral College prize. All the while, what the state actually knows about which felons owe what remains a surprisingly big mystery.

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Crystal Mason told her story in a video produced by Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

Celebrated ineligible Texas voter loses her appeal

Three Texas judges have rejected the appeal of Crystal Mason, whose singular illegal ballot in 2016 has become a flashpoint in the debate between those worried about widespread vote fraud and those worried about widespread voter suppression.

Mason says she will ask the full appeals court to reconsider her conviction and five-year-sentence, assuring the argument will continue over what's trickery at the ballot box versus what's excessive enthusiasm about exercising the franchise — and what the punishment should be for either one.

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Voting Rights and Support for People with Felony Convictions

Organizer: Nonprofit VOTE

Restoration of voting rights for ex-felons has been in the news recently, especially with the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida in 2018 (and subsequent legal and legislative challenges). But zooming out, we see that across the country there is a confusing patchwork of laws for people who have a felony conviction in their past. Join us as we learn from Jon Sherman, Senior Counsel at Fair Elections Center, about current laws regarding felon re-enfranchisement, where and why laws have changed in the past couple of years, and where you can direct individuals for more information and support. Lending a field perspective will be Samuel Gross, a board member for Revive My Vote, a nonpartisan student organization at William & Mary Law School that helps Virginians regain their right to vote after completing the terms of their incarceration.

Location: Webinar

Darrin Klimek/Getty Images

Survey shows inmates aren't all Democratic voters in waiting

A poll of more than 8,000 inmates suggests that allowing those currently or formerly incarcerated to vote will not necessarily benefit the Democrats, as many operatives in both parties believe.

Slate and the nonprofit Marshall Project, a news site covering criminal justice, unveiled the survey Wednesday, and it is sure to be cited by civil rights groups pressing to expand the voting rights of convicted felons — whose main challenges have included persuading Republicans their aim is boosting civic engagement, not gaining a partisan edge.

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