For Florida’s Felons, The Fight To Regain Their Voting Rights Is Just Starting (HBO)

More than 1.4 million convicted felons gained the right to vote back after Florida passed an amendment to its constitution last year. But getting the amendment passed was just the first hurdle for advocates hoping to re-enfranchise those citizens.

Now, some are worried that calls by Republican leaders in the state to pass legislation clarifying the amendment could end up undercutting it.

Ion Sancho, who served as the Leon County, Fla. Supervisor of Elections for nearly three decades, told VICE News that Florida has been the “genesis of the modern era of voter suppression tactics” — and that talk from GOP state lawmakers about legislating the amendment could be yet another example.

“I am anticipating that they’re going to try to slow-walk it,” he said of Republicans in the state legislature. “They’re going to try to put any kind of impediment they can. “

So far, there are no specific proposals on the table concerning the amendment from Florida legislators. But state Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, says he and other skeptics of the amendment are simply considering options to make it easier for both ex-felons and state officials to verify who’s eligible.

“Whatever we’re doing is going to be about compliance,” he said. “Anything we would do would be how do we validate that…so that there is not mishap or an opening for mischief.”

Baxley pointed to the fact that there is currently no centralized database in Florida where ex-felons can confirm that they’ve finished all the terms of their sentence, a requirement to be able to register under the new amendment. Supervisors of Elections also can’t independently confirm eligibility, and were given no guidance from the Secretary of State on how to implement the amendment.

Still, advocates of the change say they’re ready for any attempts to slow-walk the law, and willing to fight such efforts in court. In the meantime, says Demetrius Jifunza, an ex-felon who fought for the amendment and registered the first day he was eligible, advocates for the amendment are going to focus their efforts on getting people registered and involved in politics — so they can combat any attempts to take their rights away again.

“So, you know, it’s politics and it’s Florida. I mean you could snowball things, put language into something to hold things up,” he acknowledged.

But Jifunza added: “The only way to combat that is if we stay on top of things.”

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Sen. Scott: Pelosi not negotiating in good faith

(17 Jan 2019) Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott is defending President Donald Trump’s decision to reject a short-term fix to the partial government shutdown, indicating that he thinks Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is not acting in good faith. (Jan. 17)

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Graham: Senators seek bipartisan shutdown solution

(16 Jan 2019) Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says some Senate Republicans and Democrats are working together to try to end the partial federal government shutdown. (Jan. 16)

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Iowa Rep. Steve King urged to leave Congress

(15 Jan 2019) U.S. Rep. Steve King has been making offensive comment for years, but only now is the Iowa Republican congressman facing intense criticism from his own party after he questioned why white supremacist ideology is offensive. (Jan. 15)

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House measure rebukes Rep. King’s racist remarks

(15 Jan 2019) The House has approved a Democratic measure disapproving of Republican Rep. Steve King’s comments about white supremacy. The nine-term Iowa congressman was among those supporting the measure, which was approved, 416-1. (Jan. 15)

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Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine sworn in

(14 Jan 2019) New Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who was sworn-in Monday in Columbus, says he’s beginning his four-year term with great optimism about Ohio’s future and a commitment to hearing others’ ideas and perspectives. (Jan. 14)

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Senator Cruz: Trump would make a deal

(11 Jan 2019) Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas says he believes President Trump would be willing to accept a deal to end the partial federal government shutdown and enhance security at ports of entry, if funds for a border wall were included, too. (Jan. 11)

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Trump visits Capitol to seek GOP shutdown support

(9 Jan 2019) President Donald Trump arrived on Capitol Hill claiming he has “tremendous” and “unwavering” support as he headed into a meeting with Republican senators uneasy with the government shutdown over his border wall. (Jan. 9)

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Rick Scott sworn in as Florida’s freshman senator

(8 Jan 2019) Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida was sworn Tuesday, several days after the freshman class of Senate legislators, after serving the final days of his term as governor. (Jan. 8)

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House GOP leaders push border wall, decry vitriol

(4 Jan 2019) Ahead of a meeting at the White House, House Republican leaders strongly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s legislative strategy to reopen the government. They also blasted the profane call of a freshman House Democrat for the impeachment of the president. (Jan. 4)

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