Image 01 Image 03

Some of Florida ex-felon vote in limbo after SCOTUS ruling

Some of Florida ex-felon vote in limbo after SCOTUS ruling

Why do so many people assume that ex-felons will vote Democrat?

Why do so many people, Democrat and Republican alike, assume that felons released from prison will vote Democrat, and that a Florida ballot initiative that passed in 2018, restoring voting to ex-felons, would help Democrats? It’s not clear that’s true, at least not to the extent people assume.

That assumption seems to be at the heart of the political battle in Florida over the circumstances under which felons who have served their time can vote. The Florida legislature passed legislation requiring that an ex-felon, to be deemed to have served his sentence, needed to pay court-assessed fees and financial penalties.

After a District Court issued an injunction against the requirement to pay fees, the 11th Circuit stayed the injunction pending consideration of the full case on the merits. It is unclear how that will impact the November elections, as Courthouse News reported at the time:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday halted the voting registration of thousands of Florida felons who cannot pay fines or fees, just weeks after a lower court threw out the state law mandating payment of all legal financial obligations before voting.

The 11th Circuit decision granted Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ request to suspend voter registration until the full court hears the case.

The Atlanta-based appeals court did not signal if any decision would occur before the November elections. An initial hearing is set for Aug. 11, which is past the registration deadline for Florida’s Aug. 18 primary elections.

The Supreme Court just declined to overturn that Order by the 11th Circuit staying the District Court injunction. You can read the Application to Vacate The 11th Circuit Stay, Opposition, and Reply.

The Supreme Court Order split along conservative-liberal lines (it’s not clear how Breyer voted):

The application to vacate stay presented to JUSTICE THOMAS and by him referred to the Court is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting from denial of application to vacate stay.

The Sotomayor dissent argued, in part:

This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor. And it allows the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to disrupt Florida’s election process just days before the July 20 voter-registration deadline for the August primary, even though a preliminary injunction had been in place for nearly a year and a Federal District Court had found the State’s pay-to-vote scheme unconstitutional after an 8-day trial. I would grant the application to vacate the Eleventh Circuit’s stay.

Since the 11th Circuit will consider the case in August, it’s very possible that the lower court injunction will be affirmed, and the ex-felons at issue will be able to vote in November. Or that it will be back at the Supreme Court at a more ripe moment. I see the Supreme Court denial of the motion to vacate the 11th Circuit stay as a mostly procedural issue.

So back to my question, why are we assuming this hurts Democrats?


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


That is a really silly question. The majority of ex-cons are non-white. They will vote the same as other members of their group which would be Democrat. I can’t believe how silly your question is.

filiusdextris | July 17, 2020 at 7:24 pm

I would imagine the vast majority will not vote regardless.

Dusty Pitts | July 17, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Democrats and criminals (but I repeat myself) know their own.

People assume criminals will vote Democrat for the same reason they assume illegal (if allowed to vote) and legal aliens will vote Democrat. Because the Democrats pander to them much more than (most) Republicans do.

Because pandering is what wins elections. Didn’t you know that?

/intense sarcasm

As a Floridian this is a simple issue. If you are sentenced to a jail / prison term plus a fine and other costs your sentence is not complete until you are released from jail / prison plus every penny of that has been paid to the affected party. If they wanted the measure to read jail / prison term only the amendment should have been written in that manner.

Interesting that RBG could handle a decision like this while hospitalized and receiving Chemo

Just more proof that her staff just writes it up and stamps her name on it

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to murkyv. | July 17, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Yes and since its Friday it is time for

    Weekend At Ruthies

    Warning – objects in mirror may be deader than they appear.

Felons being allowed to vote does not help the Democrats because all felons will vote for Democrats. It helps the Democrats because restoring voting rights to felons increases the pool of eligible identities to commit voter fraud with. The fact that the felons are less likely to actually vote only makes it more of a boon for democrat ballot stuffers.

    forksdad in reply to Dr. Ransom. | July 18, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Embrace the power of and.

    randian in reply to Dr. Ransom. | July 18, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    That was my take as well. The Democrats might even be bold enough to stuff enough ballots give these newly voting felons a 100% voting rate. That easily makes Florida a permanent Democrat state in all statewide elections.

    Some Florida voting precincts, all of them majority black as I recall, regularly have more votes than registered voters, with no lawsuits by the Republicans to throw their votes out. If the opposition won’t even do the bare minimum to stop you why not go whole hog?

This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor.

Ahh, no, it’s because they’re poor felons.

I wouldn’t agree with her implication that the poor—however “poor” is defined—are automatically felons.

People assume that, if the voting rights of all felons are restored, that those felons will vote for Democrats, if they vote at all, because the Dems are pushing the reinstatement. Democrats do nothing which they think will harm their political chances. So, if they are for it, then it is not to provide votes for Republicans.

If they served their sentence, paid their dues to society, they should recover their civil rights.

The vast majority of felons are democrats, so when their voting rights are restored, they will vote democrat.

The democrats that are not felons –

They just haven’t been caught yet.

The proponents of Amendment 4 are pulling a bait and switch here. When the proponents’ lawyer was presenting the Amendment to the Florida Supreme Court for approval of the ballot summary, the following colloquies occurred:

Justice: This includes the completion of the terms of probation, right?

Mills: Yes, sir. It’s, it specifically includes all matters included in the sentence including probation and parole. So that means all matters, anything that a judge puts in a sentence.

Justice: So it would include the full payment of any fines?

Mills: Yes, sir. Yeah, all terms means all terms…

AND Later:

Justice: I have a question. You said that terms of sentence includes fines and costs. And it’s the, that’s the way it’s generally pronounced in criminal court. Would it also include restitution when it was ordered to a victim as part of the sentence?

Mills: Yes.

But now the proponents of the Amendment challenge, as unconstitutional, the requirement that fines, costs, and restitution must be paid before a felon’s right to vote is restored.

The proponents sold Amendment 4 to the people of the State of Florida by representing that all fines, fees, and restitution would be paid before restoring felon’s voting rights, and now, having persuaded a Federal Judge that conditioning a felon’s voting rights on the full payment of fines, costs, restitution is unconstitutional, decry the State of Florida’s insistence that the Proponents of Amendment 4 be held to the promises made to get Amendment 4 passed.

    Formerly known as Skeptic in reply to wjr. | July 18, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Seems to me that if the terms of the amendment are deemed to be unconstitutional, then the amendment should be repealed in full. After all, removing the requirement to pay fees and letting the rest stand would (as you say) result in a law that is not what the people voted for. I assume there is no severability clause written in, right?

It is the way it is.
Democrats feel they have a right to the wealth of others.
Republicans, we have jobs, families, bills….
We are too busy to be out thieving all night.

Increasing the number of eligible voters could be the plan. Then “harvest” their votes. Not illegal but crossing the line. I’ve always heard Democrats benefit from a large turnout in swing states so the battle is over voter rolls and voter eligibility.

Here is my stab at your question. ‘Why are we assuming this hurts d; restoring voting rights to felons?

Demographics of FLORIDA Prisons
49% black/AA
38% white not Hispanic
13% Hispanic
1% other

2018 Florida US Senate vote by race
Black/AA 88% voted d
White not Hispanic 41% voted d
Hispanic 54% voted d
Other 54% voted d

So it appears from this very cursory examination that:
The demographic composition of the majority of Florida’s prison population would not be likely r voters. However, one would need follow up information regarding the votes actually cast by this population of released felons;
1. Do felons with restored rights actually vote
2. In what percentage
3. Exit survey of this population for party preferences
4. Exit survey of this population for candidate preferences

That would tell us if this population has the same or different voting trends as the general public.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that felons with restored voting rights will most likely tend to skew d in roughly the same percentage as the general public. Also increased numbers of registered but less likely voters does create potential for vote fraud.

    Barry in reply to CommoChief. | July 18, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for the data Chief.

    The only thing I would say is that criminals will skew heavily for a party of their fellows.

Gremlin1974 | July 18, 2020 at 9:45 am

1: That belief stems from the view that Democrats are “Soft” on crime.

2: Of course the fees and penalties should be paid they are part of the punishment.

3: Felons, especially violent felons should not have their rights restored. They Chose to commit a crime, it should have lasting effects. It is the easiest thing in the world to NOT become a felon. Millions upon millions of people manage to do it every day.

Disclaimer: All of the above is my opinion and if you disagree…..well I really don’t care.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    @Gremlin1994. I concur. Violent felons should never have their voting rights restored.

    My response to anyone who says their voting rights should be restored: when their victims are restored. When the rape victim is made whole and their nightmares end. When the murder victim is resurrected from the dead. When the old lady who lost her house because the felon took her social security check is restored. When the disfigured child from a drunk driving accident shows no physical and psychological scars.

    Then and only then should their right to vote be restored.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to AF_Chief_Master_Sgt. | July 19, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      This is the most succinct and best answer I have heard to this question and encapsulates my feelings exactly. Thank you.

      100% agree, we can discuss Felons rights when their victims are made whole.

Occasional Thinker | July 18, 2020 at 1:54 pm

I believe that voting and gun ownership should be a package deal. If you are not mature enough due to age or deemed not responsible enough due to your criminal past to possess a firearm, then you are not mature enough or responsible enough to vote. I think that would dampen most democrats on allowing felons to vote and would be especially interesting in areas where they are attempting to extend the vote to those still incarcerated.


Yes indeed. Either restore all the rights and duties of citizenship or none.

Personally, I believe society should restore those rights upon completion of sentences. For a first time offender. Not habitual criminals.

Obviously this is a nuanced issue but if we believe in a path to redemption and have set up our prison systems based on that then we should follow through. Of course, I also believe that the death penalty should be more widely imposed.