© 2024 KUAF
NPR Affiliate since 1985
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Affected by May 26 tornadoes? Find relief resources here.

Despite his conviction, Trump will likely retain his Florida voting rights

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Nothing bars former President Donald Trump from running for the White House now that he's a convicted felon. But what about his own voting rights? The state of Florida, where Trump is registered to vote, has a complicated history when it comes to restoring voting rights after a felony conviction. But this likely won't matter for Trump, as NPR's Ashley Lopez explains.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: The bottom line is that Trump is more than likely going to be able to vote for himself in Florida come November. Blair Bowie with the Campaign Legal Center says a big reason for that is that he was convicted in New York and not his home state of Florida.

BLAIR BOWIE: The Florida Constitution recognizes that out-of-state convictions and rights restorations in other states are enough to restore the right to vote in Florida.

LOPEZ: So even though Trump is a Florida voter, Bowie says New York's voting laws for felons are the ones that matter in this case.

BOWIE: And New York law only takes away the right to vote from people convicted of felonies while they are incarcerated. So unless Donald Trump is in prison on Election Day, he would not lose the right to vote.

LOPEZ: Most legal experts say it's unlikely Trump will get prison time, but even if he were to, that would not mean he was out of options. Bowie says it's totally possible that Trump could receive clemency from Republican Governor Ron DeSantis while he's in prison.

BOWIE: The Clemency Board's rules require that they finish their entire sentence before they seek clemency. However, those rules are set by the board itself, which is controlled by the governor. So Governor DeSantis could - and it's likely that he would - bend those rules for Trump.

LOPEZ: And last night, DeSantis himself said Trump's case would be an easy case to qualify for restoration of rights through the Clemency Board. For most other Floridians with a felony conviction, it's a bit more complicated. In 2018, voters approved a measure to automatically restore voting rights for those convicted of a felony. But before that went into effect, state lawmakers added some caveats. Neil Volz with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says that includes requiring people pay all their fines and fees associated with their sentence.

NEIL VOLZ: It's a little bit like a Dickens novel, right? It's the best of times and worst of times. We saw hundreds of thousands of people have access to voting. But we also know that there are hundreds of thousands who do not yet have access because they owe financial obligations. And until they're able to pay those financial obligations, they're not yet able to vote.

LOPEZ: Volz says if there are any actions taken in Florida to make sure that Trump's felony conviction doesn't result in him losing his voting rights, he hopes that gets extended to other people with a past conviction. Ashley Lopez, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.