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Florida House panel passes controversial felon voting rights restoration bill

A bill that sets conditions on restoring felon voting rights won approval Tuesday from a Florida House committee over the objection of advocates who helped get rights restoration placed in the state constitution.

Advocates said the language goes too far, in part by requiring civil fines and court costs to be paid before felons can have their voting rights restored.

“That will restrict the ability to vote for thousands of Floridians, especially people who are poor, especially people of color,” said Neil Volz, political director for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Volz said financial obligations should be considered only if a judge specifically made that part of an offender’s sentencing, such as restitution to victims. He also argued that the Legislature doesn’t need a bill to spell out a process for voting rights restoration.

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