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Testimony In Trial Over Felon Voting Rights To Be Conducted Online

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that testimony and expert statements for the trial over a 2018 state law regarding felon voting will be conducted on a live web-based conferencing system. In 2019 Floridians approved a constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences. The legislature crafted a law that stops them from voting if they have unpaid fines, fees and restitution. 

The state has made several attempts to stop the hearing. Today it argued against Department of State Director Maria Matthews from testifying live. ACLU attorney Julie Ebenstein argues Matthews should testify.

“We assume that Mrs. Matthews can be available by video conferencing and we would like to be able to see her testify live and do direct in response to that," Ebenstein said. "We think that having live testimony is both important for the court and for us to be able to respond and present our cross-examination.”

Hinkle agrees. He wants Matthews to give an up to date response about what’s going on with the state’s system. Hinkle has said if the state won’t fix the law, he will.  The state has already lost a federal challenge over the law. The state trial begins April 27.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.