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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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