This week, the 11th IC has been released shocking opinion reduce voting rights in Florida. More than half of the former felony crimes in Florida are currently not registered to vote, because they have to pay fines, fees and compensation first – effectively a voting tax. In response to this, we propose that a solution. Ours Moneyball redistribution The approach shows how reformers can make the most of the next three weeks of voter registration – and maximize the leverage of those new Floridian voters in the coming years.
Over the past few years, it has become clear that federal courts have no longer been the right sites to pursue voting rights. I’m reading a great book coming soon, The cycle of constitutional time by Jack Balkin. He said that the two parties’ stances on judicial intervention periodically change as they change their political dominance. In 1980, we started out of what Balkin called the New Agreement / Civil Rights era. Anyone working for voting rights has to adapt to this growing reality. Politics, not the judiciary, will be the main force to save us.
The solution today doesn’t need a court.
The intention of Amendment 4 in Florida is to restore voting rights to the 1.4 million former felony who completed “all terms of the sentence including pardon or probation.” Legislature – and It’s the 11th round now – has now thrown a wrench into the machine, determining completion including payment of all fines, fees and compensation. This requirement is worse than imagined: in many cases, people do not even know how much a person owes. That is Kafkaesque.
So far this year, only 85,000 former offenders have registered to vote. But even such a small number could make this population an important force in Florida politics if efforts are properly concentrated. As we wrote before, Florida is a redistricting Moneyball state (see our Florida Moneyball I, II, and III). Bipartisan governance will be determined by a small number of state legislative races. As it turns out, many of them races out in counties where fines and fees are forgiven.
In Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, fines and fees can be removed from the court judgment for voter registration purposes. According to our Moneyball Redistricting ratingsThese counties contain 7 of the top 17 counties for voter power in Florida.
In 2018, these seven counties were decided by 32 to 7586 votes – for a total of less than 20,000. So signing up for even a few thousand would be quite the result.
A large amount of money is pouring into Florida politics due to the presidential election. But voter profits and even advertising may be declining. In contrast, new registration is an active sum game for bringing new voters into the system. A smart move would be to put that amount of money into former felony voter registration efforts in these two counties. Any such attempt would perform three missions: influence both state law for the presidency and redistribute an estimated 29 US House of Representatives seats over the next decade.
One difficulty is identifying exactly the right organization to do this job. I have several organizations have been identified previouslyBut neither does it seem to match the bill exactly. One possible recommendation would be to support the Florida Alliance for Rights Restoration. Their efforts, however, resulted in 4,000 sign-ups and statewide distribution, so I was a little hesitant. A faster and more focused effort would be welcome. I am curious whether they – or any other organization in the Miami-Dade or Palm Beach counties – will do the job. Please give specific suggestions in the comments.
The deadline for voter registration in Florida is October 5.
Update: In Miami-Dade County, State Senator Jason Pizzo to speak he has a team of professional lawyers ready to help people apply. I don’t know if they accept donations.