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Biden May Have Just Lost Hundreds of Thousands of Potential Votes in Florida, and the Ballots Haven't Even Been Cast

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The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on September 11 that felons no longer on parole or probation who are not able to pay court fines, fees and debts to the state cannot vote in the 2020 November election.

That means, in effect, that Joe Biden (assuming that most felons, including a large segment of Blacks, would vote Democratic) has been denied perhaps hundreds of thousands of votes before the election even begins.

This decision provides tremendous advantage to Trump and Florida Republicans in a state that is perennially closely divided in presidential contests.

This decision, which is the latest in numerous court battles on the issue, provides tremendous advantage to Trump and Florida Republicans in a state that is perennially closely divided in presidential contests. Felons (believed to number up to 1.5 million individuals) overwhelmingly had their voting rights restored in a 2018 Florida citizen’s initiative, which received more than 65% of the votes to pass.

However, the Florida Republican legislature, ever eager to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters quickly passed a bill, signed by DeSantis, which placed the burden on felons, many of them of limited means, to pay back all costs owed as a result of their incarceration before voting rights would be restored

As BuzzFlash has detailed in several articles, the GOP law — which will be the last legal decision on this voter suppression law before the election — amounts to a Jim Crow poll tax.

As BuzzFlash noted in a July 22 commentary, the felon disenfranchisement dates back to the beginning of the Jim Crow era, according to The Washington Post:

In 1868, Florida’s white elites faced a threat every bit as grave as the Civil War that had ended in Confederate defeat three years earlier. Congress had just forced Florida to rewrite its constitution to allow every man the right to vote. But adding thousands of newly eligible black residents to the rolls would abruptly make whites a voting minority.

The old guard’s only hope was to somehow ban black voters without violating Reconstruction acts passed by Congress after the Civil War. Huddled in Tallahassee backrooms throughout that cool January, they found just the ticket: a lifetime voting ban on anyone with a felony conviction. Combined with postwar laws that made it easy to saddle black residents with criminal records, legislators knew they could suppress black votes indefinitely.

Florida was not alone, as Facing South notes of the felons who can’t vote in Alabama because they can’t pay money they owe the state.

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85,000 former Florida felons have paid the debts they have been told they owed and should be entitled to vote, but the latest ruling allows the state to deny them voting rights if it declares they owe more money. This conservative Appellate Court decision would appear to be in direct conflict with the 24th Amendment that prohibits the disenfranchising of any voter "by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax."

There are also an untold number of former felons who don’t owe any money to any governmental entities who simply have not been told of their right to vote. A grass roots group with limited means, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, has been trying to reach out to them and to raise money to help pay off the debt of other felons.

Altogether, the GOP heist of voting rights granted to Florida felons after parole and probation by Amendment 4 might be a million or higher.

Meanwhile, Florida’s neighboring state to the north, Georgia, has accomplished a GOP advantage before elections even begin by purging hundreds of thousands of votes. This is how Brian Kemp, purging votes as Georgia’s Secretary of State, was able to steal the election and “beat” Stacey Abrams in 2018.

Then in October of 2019, the new Georgia GOP Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, purged more than 310,000 additional voters, claiming they had moved. Greg Palast and the ACLU, however, conducted a study and found that more than 195,000 of these voters had indeed not moved. As usual, it was people of color, the elderly, the poor and young voters who have been most affected.

It is important to note that the massive Florida return to a Jim Crow disenfranchisement is distinctive from the GOP use of purge lists to stop Democrats from voting. However, what they have in common is an unconstitutional strategy to deprive voters of the right to cast a ballot, providing Republican candidates such as Trump and Kemp with large electoral “leads” before voting even begins.

As we noted in one earlier commentary, they are the carbon monoxide poisoning of Republican vote theft electoral politics — a fraud of massive proportions that goes largely unnoticed, even by the Democratic Party.

Trump won Florida in 2016 by fewer than 113,000 votes with more than nine million votes cast. In 2000, George W. Bush would have lost the state if all the votes were counted, but was installed by a Supreme Court vote that declared him the winner with an “official” victory of 537 votes out of six million votes cast. In both cases, the Democratic candidates, Clinton and Gore, won the national popular vote.

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Due to last Friday’s court ruling, the Florida 2020 election will likely see Biden starting several hundred thousand votes down before the first ballot is tabulated. As a result of voter purging aimed primarily at Democratic constituencies, the same theft of votes before November 3 will leave Trump with an early advantage in Georgia.

Mark Karlin
BuzzFlash