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Florida’s ban on felons voting ruled unconstitutional by judge

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Florida’s policy of banning felons from voting until they petition the government is unconstitutional and forces them to “kowtow” to the whim of state politicians, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed on behalf of nine ex-felons denied the right to vote.

Almost all states deny incarcerated criminals the right to vote, but Florida, an often crucial state in presidential elections, is one of only four to not automatically restore voting rights after felons have completed their sentences.

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“In Florida elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines or standards,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in a 43-page decision, saying he would rule later on how the state should fix the system.

Governor Rick Scott’s communication director, John Tupps, said in a statement that Florida’s process for restoring voting rights to felons had been in place for decades and that Walker’s ruling broke with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

“The governor believes that convicted felons should show that they can lead a life free of crime and be accountable to their victims and our communities,” Tupps said, adding that the office would defend it in court.

The Fair Elections Legal Network, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, could not be reached by Reuters for comment.

“Today a federal court said what so many Floridians have known for so long — that the state’s arbitrary restoration process, which forces former felons to beg for their right to vote, violates the oldest and most basic principles of our democracy,” Jon Sherman, senior counsel for the organization, told local media.

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In his ruling, Walker said the state subjected felons to a lengthy and arbitrary process to get their voting rights back.

“To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority,” he wrote.

The judge cited one clemency hearing at which the Republican governor announced: “We can do whatever we want,” and another where Scott restored a felon’s rights moments after the man said he voted illegally for him.

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Last month the Florida elections officials approved inclusion on the November ballot a measure that would restore voting rights to people who had completed their sentences, unless they had been convicted of murder or a serious sex offense.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Trump’s big-money Florida fundraiser expected to bring in $10 million — from only 100 people

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President Donald Trump flew to Mar-a-Lago on Friday after receiving a formal summons from the U.S. Senate informing him of his impeachment trial.

The president will be attending a Friday evening campaign fundraiser.

The recipient of the money is Trump Victory, which is a joint fundraising committee set up by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

“Tonight’s Trump Victory fundraiser is expected to raise $10 million with approximately 100 people in attendance," the campaign told the White House pool reporter.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1218264289225728000

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Lev Parnas has Trump ‘unnerved’: ex-FBI official says the president doesn’t know what he ‘has up his sleeve’

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President Donald Trump is "very nervous" about what Lev Parnas may have on him, a former top FBI official suggested on MSNBC on Friday.

Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence was interviewed by MSNBC's Peter Alexander.

The host played clips of Trump denying any relationship with Parnas.

"Well, I don't know him, I don't know Lev Parnas, other than I guess I had pictures taken -- which I do with thousands of people," Trump argued. "I don't know him at all, don't know what he's about, don't where he comes from. I can tell you this -- I don't know him. I don't believe I've ever spoken to him. I don't believe I've ever spoken to him."

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Trump is now feuding with Iran’s Supreme Leader on Twitter: ‘Make Iran Great Again!’

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President Donald Trump is now replying directly to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Twitter.

I Friday, Khamenei tweeted a screenshot of a Trump tweet, with a message of his own.

"The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers," Khamenei posted.

"Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail," he added.

https://twitter.com/khamenei_ir/status/1218141834842660864

Trump retweeted the message, adding his own argument.

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