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13,000 Florida felons could be eligible voters after celebrities paid fines, fees: analysis

13,000 Florida felons could be eligible voters after celebrities paid fines, fees: analysis
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Up to 13,000 Florida felons could be eligible to vote thanks to the concerted effort by celebrities to pay off their court fines and fees according to an analysis conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and Propublica.

Notable figures such as Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown calls on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign Biden selects Gina Raimondo for Commerce chief: reports 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE and LeBron James contributed to the nonprofit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the Tampa Bay Times reports, helping to pay about $27 million in fines and fees.

This allows potentially 12,800 eligible voters to register to vote and, as the report notes, this could be a boon to Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE as most of these voters appear to be Democrats. The review found that in the Florida counties where fees were paid off — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Palm Beach and Polk — 74 percent were Black and among that group, 68 percent were registered as Democrats.

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In a Morning Consult poll released Monday, Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Florida. Most other polls from Florida show the race to be extremely tight, with several recent polls showing Biden and President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE statistically tied according to RealClearPolitics.

Neil Volz, deputy director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, told the newspaper, “We want communities to get better by having more voices heard, and the quicker people are able to be reintegrated into the community, the better.”

As the Tampa Bay Times points out, this nonprofit-led action comes two years after Florida voters approved Amendment 4 which restored voting rights to felons. However, the Florida legislature stipulated that felons must settle all conditions of their sentence, including court fines and fees.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida scientist who accused state of manipulating coronavirus data tests positive for COVID-19, turns herself in Overnight Health Care: Testing capacity strained as localities struggle with vaccine staffing | Health workers refusing vaccine is growing problem | Incoming CDC director expects 500,000 COVID deaths by mid-February COVID-19 testing capacity strained as localities struggle with vaccine staffing MORE (R) ordered attorney general Ashley Moody to have the state police and FBI investigate the payments made by the coalition to see if they were an illegal inducement to vote. As reported by the paper, state police said last week that there is a “preliminary inquiry” that has not yet been elevated to an investigation.

According to the president of the coalition, Desmond Meade, the donations have not only helped felons regain their voting rights, but also provided badly needed funds to courts beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were able to go to Brevard County and hand them a check for $551,000. All of Florida taxpayers are benefiting from our efforts,” said Meade.