The on-again, off-again political rights of people released from prison in the nation's biggest purple state has been one of the most prominent democracy reform stories of the past two years. For now, they're off again.
A federal appeals court has put on hold a lower court's ruling that had opened up registration and voting to upwards of a million Florida felons.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted a request from Gov. Ron DeSantis to stay the trial judge's decision — which for a month stood as the year's biggest victory for voting rights — and have the entire appeals panel hear the case in August, bypassing the usual practice of starting with just three judges.
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More than 18,000 ballots were mailed in but not tabulated in Florida's presidential primary, researchers have found. And the envelopes returned by young, first-time and Black voters were the most likely not to get counted.
The number of uncounted absentee ballots is one component of an analysis of the March 17 primary published last week by the Healthy Elections Project, created by experts at Stanford and MIT.
While the number of uncounted mail ballots is a tiny fraction — 1.3 percent — of the total number of mail-in ballots in the primary, it nonetheless represents a significant number of voters in a state renowned for its razor-thin election results.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is ponying up $30 million to help community organizations further their voter registration efforts.
The "Vote Your Voice" campaign, announced Tuesday, focuses on increasing registration and mobilization of voters of color in five states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Voting registration efforts across the country have taken a hit because of the coronavirus. Physical distancing and state lockdowns have made it difficult for organizers to do many of the usual voter registration pushes that take place during a presidential election year.
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Florida's top criminal investigators have found "no evidence of fraudulent intent" by the Democrats after a year-long probe into allegations of mail-in-vote tampering during the last election.
The conclusion by the Department of Law Enforcement prompted the state's top prosecutor to declare Wednesday that a "lack of sufficient evidence to support prosecution" brings to a close one of the most prominent election corruption disputes in years in the state's biggest purple state.
It also punctures a major talking point from President Trump as he's ratcheted up his campaign against expanding absentee voting this year in response to the coronavirus crisis. He has claimed there was fraud in the 2018 Florida election, where the margins in both top races were so thin as to require statewide recounts.
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