Federal judge hears case to restore vote to Florida felons

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge is set to begin hearing a case that could decide if Florida lawmakers exceeded their authority to strip voting rights from former felons who still owe fines and other financial obligations once freed from prison.

The hearings are to open Monday.

Amendment 4 was overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall. It was supposed to restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions who had already completed their sentences, including parole or probation. But earlier this year, the Republican-led state legislature specified former felons had to complete their financial obligations before they could regain voting rights. The measure was later signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Voter advocacy groups immediately sued the state in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, arguing the requirement constituted a poll tax.

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