One man’s story tells of the challenges many Americans are facing due to harsh, and in many respects, undemocratic laws on felon voting.. In an article titled “Restoring felon voting rights a ‘mess’ in battleground Florida” in Reuters, Linda So reported that “… under a Florida law that went into effect July 1, [Clifford Tyson, 63] must pay [the] penalties [he owes] before casting a ballot or risk being prosecuted for voter fraud.” Tyson “owes court-ordered fines and fees for three felony convictions, one for robbery, two for theft, all decades-old”, So notes, reporting that,
Tyson searched court records, first on his own, then with the help of a nonprofit legal advocacy group. They say that because Florida has no comprehensive system for tracking such fines, the documents don’t make clear what he owes. The records, viewed by Reuters, show potential sums ranging from $846 to a couple thousand dollars related to crimes he committed in the late 1970s and 1990s. Tyson says he won’t risk voting until Florida authorities can tell him for sure.
[Tyson wants to help choose America’s next president. But the Florida resident fears his vote might return him to jail.] “Until there is clarity, as much as I want to vote, I won’t do it,” Tyson said. The Tampa pastor is now a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the payments law, which was crafted by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, also a Republican. The law came just months after Floridians approved a ballot initiative restoring voting rights to more than 1 million felons who have completed their sentences; that change to the state’s Constitution created a potentially huge new crop of voters in a critical battleground state ahead of the 2020 presidential election.