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Today, a voter disenfranchisement law with roots in the Jim Crow-era finally died in Florida. While Democrats around the state rejoiced, Republicans tweeted the equivalent of crickets.
In November, Floridians overwhelmingly ratified an amendment to the state constitution that automatically restores voting rights to people with felony convictions, other than murder and sex offenses, who have completed the terms of their sentence.
The law had permanently disenfranchised roughly 1.5 million people in the state, including more than one in five Black people. Today, upwards of 1.4 million of those people had their rights restored.
It was a very big day for civil rights in the nation’s largest swing state, where chads be dangling and elections are often decided by a fraction of a percent.
Democrats on Twitter were thrilled about an issue they’ve long supported.
This day is long overdue for millions of Floridians. Democrats will be working hard to expand the electorate in Florida and earn the support of these new voters. https://t.co/VihPpYG6wM— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) January 8, 2019
Dark chapter of Florida’s history was closed today with the enactment of #Amendment4 automatically restoring the voting rights of former felons – it’s about forgiveness and second chances. #FelonVotingRights pic.twitter.com/stmiHEZkRJ— Rep. Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) January 8, 2019
This is what democracy looks like. https://t.co/6XSQAt2VHB— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) January 8, 2019
Republicans on Twitter, meanwhile, focused on literally anything but rights restoration.
Incoming Sen. Rick Scott, who most recently served as Florida’s governor of voter suppression, tweeted about how thrilled he is to join Sen. Marco Rubio in the nation’s capital.
In addition to talking about Scott’s swearing-in ceremony, Rubio tweeted about Syria and, um, clapped back at Ted Nugent for saying that legislation he’d filed was proof that Rubio is in league with the Devil, writing, “Ted, I can assure you the Devil had no role in drafting my bill.”
Why? Because it’s Florida.
Ted, I can assure you the Devil had no role in drafting my bill.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 8, 2019
Here are some facts in thread:
1. Your concern about “Hillary, Holder or Comey” are unnecessary. My bill doesn’t create a federal protection order it’s a grant program for states
Incoming Gov, Ron DeSantis, who opposed rights restoration and last month hemmed and hawed about how he might delay it as long as humanly possible, has lately had a lot to say on Twitter about his inauguration—but nothing about the 1.4 million Floridians getting their voting rights back, also today.
And perhaps Florida’s most outspoken congressman, Matt Gaetz, didn’t have anything to add on the matter, not mentioning it on any of his feeds. Meanwhile, the Florida GOP kept itself busy tweeting about DeSantis’ inauguration.
It’s almost like Republicans realize that the people whose votes they’ve spent decades suppressing might not be particularly inclined to vote for them.
And they don’t have much to say about that.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.