Bloomberg raises millions to help restore Florida felon voting rights

In 2018, Florida approved an amendment allowing felons, not convicted of murder or sex crimes who served their time and paid fines and restitution, to regain their right to vote.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to a crowd in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wednesday. (photo credit: DOUG STRICKLAND/REUTERS)
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to a crowd in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wednesday.
(photo credit: DOUG STRICKLAND/REUTERS)
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has put together a fund of over $16 million to be used towards helping convicted felons vote in Florida.
In 2018, Florida approved an amendment allowing felons, not convicted of murder or sex crimes who served their time and paid fines and restitution, to regain their right to vote in both federal and state elections. Florida also happens to be one of the major battleground states in the upcoming general election.
It was only later added that the felons would be required to pay court fines and fees before regaining voting rights -  a move sponsored by Republican lawmakers. The federal appeals court upheld that law this month, reversing a lower court ruling that held the measure unconstitutional.
Voting rights advocates and Democrats have accused Republicans in a number of states of passing laws aimed at suppressing the voting ability of groups who tend to support Democratic candidates.
Bloomberg's fund as well as the $5 million raised by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition paid off the outstanding fines of around 32,000 felons, paving the way for them to vote in the upcoming general election, according to Axios.
"The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right," a spokesperson for Bloomberg said, according to Axios. "Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it."
The fundraising tally comes just over a week after Bloomberg aides said the former New York City mayor, who made an unsuccessful 2020 bid for the Democratic nomination, would spend at least $100 million to help Democrat Joe Biden's campaign against President Donald Trump in Florida.
In-state voting by mail starts on Thursday in Florida, which will be the biggest prize among competitive states on Nov. 3's Election Day, offering 29 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.
Bloomberg promised to be a political force even after spending $1 billion of his own money to unsuccessfully compete with Biden for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
He sees an opportunity to make a difference in the closing weeks of the race in Florida, a state Trump won by 113,000 votes in 2016, or 1.2 percentage points.
The president has since adopted the state as his residence and visits regularly. Recent polls have shown Biden with a very slim margin there

Reuters contributed to this report.