In Florida: Felons Can Vote in Presidential Primaries, But Not Independents
A federal judge recently decided to temporary block a state law that would impose a financial requirement on criminals released from prison and done with parole in order to be re-enfranchised in the democratic process. This means, in 2020, hundreds of thousands of felons may be allowed to vote in the presidential primary process.
That is, as long as they join either the Democratic or Republican Party.
Meanwhile, over 3 million taxpaying independent voters are denied a meaningful vote in these primary elections for only one reason: they don’t want to join one of the two major parties.
Whatever you think about the reinstatement of voting rights for felons, that’s besides the point. The REASON this is an issue is because it is partisan and one party will benefit from the reinstatement to the detriment of another.
That’s why the Democratic Party pushed so hard for felon voting rights and the Republicans pushed back by passing a law that requires felons to pay back all fines, fees and restitution -- which critics decried as a "poll tax."
"When an eligible citizen misses an opportunity to vote, the opportunity is gone forever; the vote cannot later be cast," wrote US District Judge Hinkle. "So when the state wrongly prevents an eligible citizen from voting, the harm is irreparable."
Meanwhile, BOTH parties rejected an attempt by nonpartisan election reformers who simply wanted every voter, regardless of party, to have the right to participate in the taxpayer-funded primary election.
That is why nonpartisan reform is so hard. It’s not in either major party’s interest to defend the rights of voters who won’t join their club.
That is why the Independent Voter Project (IVP) filed a lawsuit against the California secretary of state in July for conducting a presidential primary that requires voters to associate with a political party -- despite the state constitution requiring an “open presidential primary.”
So whatever you think about the “voting rights” issue as it relates to convicted felons, put that into context. What about the rights of law-abiding taxpaying citizens who simply don’t want to associate themselves with either major party?
Every voter, regardless of their party affiliation or lack thereof, has the right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice. When these voters are wrongly denied this right because they exercise their right to not associate with a private political party, as Judge Hinkle says, "the harm is irreparable."