In a legal showdown over voting rights in the political battleground state of Florida, a group of federal judges asked probing questions Wednesday about how voting rights are restored for some former prisoners but not others. At issue is whether Florida’s process of restoring voting rights to felons is unconstitutional. State officials defend their system, but critics call it arbitrary and unfair. “Is voting an expression protected by the First Amendment?” Judge Darren Gayles asked during Wednesday’s oral arguments in the case. Gayles was among a three-judge panel hearing the arguments at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Florida’s system is not unconstitutional, and the way the state decides whether felons can vote again after their incarceration should be left to states — not the federal courts, Florida Solicitor General Amit Agarwal said during the hearing.
But Jon Sherman, senior counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Elections Center, told the judges that Florida’s system is unfair.
“Florida’s practice is inconsistent with the values of a democratic government,” Sherman said.
Full Article: Florida’s voting rights battle goes to federal appeals court.