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A clever bit of gamesmanship by Democrats who’ve otherwise been thwarted in their attempt to return Florida’s many hundreds of thousands of felons to the voter rolls in time for the election. In 2018 Floridians passed a constitutional amendment that restored the right to vote to anyone who’d been convicted of a crime other than murder or a sexual offense. That would have put a gigantic number of new voters in play, many of them poor and minorities, in a state that Trump won by a little more than 100,000 four years ago.
Can’t have that, Republicans said. So the state legislature passed a law stipulating that felons would only regain their right to vote if they paid off all outstanding fines and court fees related to their cases. That policy was savaged as a de facto poll tax; a lawsuit ensued, but the new statute was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Voting with the majority: Barbara Lagoa, one of Trump’s new SCOTUS shortlisters. According to WaPo, some 775,000(!) felons still owe money to the court system. They’re barred from voting unless and until SCOTUS itself says otherwise.
…or, of course, unless they manage to scrape together the dough to pay off their fines in time to vote in the upcoming election. Mike Bloomberg has vowed to spend $100 million in Florida to try to get Biden over the top, much of which will go to advertising and GOTV projects. But he and his team had a bright idea. What if they looked through the long list of felons with outstanding debt and just paid off the debts for people who owe only a small amount of money? And what if, instead of helping out every ex-con with a small fine still outstanding, they helped out only those ex-cons who are most likely to vote for Joe Biden, namely, black voters (and Latinos to a much smaller extent)?
For the comparatively low price of $16 million, Team Bloomy may have just added tens of thousands of votes to Biden’s eventual total. I wonder how many votes the same amount spent on advertising would have flipped, especially given how intense polarization is about Trump. A few hundred, maybe?
“We have identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment,” the memo read. “The data shows that in Florida, Black voters are a unique universe unlike any other voting bloc, where the Democratic support rate tends to be 90%-95%.”…
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