Write a big old check, Mr. Bloomberg and help Florida’s ex-felons vote in November

Michael Bloomberg speaks during a press briefing on Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2018 in New York, the United States, Sept. 17, 2018. (Xinhua)
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Miami Herald Editorial (TNS)

Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and former flash in the pan for the Democratic nomination for president, has $100 million burning a hole in his pocket.

He says he’s going to spend it all in Florida to help Joe Biden win the state in November.

We have an idea. First, a little history.

Ex-felons in the state for decades did not have the right to vote, regaining that right when voters approved it in 2018. Already they’ve lost it again — if they have any unpaid fines and fees mandated by the court.

This new stumbling block comes courtesy of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican Legislature who don’t want these returning citizens to vote. The fear: they will not vote Republican. Given how shabbily they are treating returning citizens, they might be right.

Still, it’s an obnoxious and discriminatory reason to deny them the vote. It’s an outrageous preemptive strike — a poll tax, some people are calling it — to preserve the spirit of Jim Crow era laws.

This is where Bloomberg comes in. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says all told, the ex- felons owe billions of dollars. Much of it in the hundreds of dollars. Do you see we were going here?

Bloomberg could be their last hope, empowering hundreds of thousands of new voters to cast heir ballots in Florida. Efforts to overturn the fee seem to have reached their legal end. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit overturned a lower court’s ruling that Floridians with felony convictions do not have to pay off all court fees and fines before voting.

As we said in our September 13 editorial, advocates are working to help ex-felons. They say they’ve paid the fines and fees of 4,000 returning citizens, thanks to the generosity of Americans around the state and across the country. But there are still 774,000 ex-felons more who owe fees and fines.

Bloomberg can find a way to donate to the FRRC’s fines and fees fund, wegotthevote.org/finesandfees.Time is an issue as Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote in November.

With such a significant donation, Bloomberg’s money won’t get lost in the miasma of campaign ads and yard signs, it will have a direct effect on ensuring the democratic process..

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