A series of polls from the St. Leo University Polling Institute shows Floridians deeply divided on some of the major issues that the state will face in the upcoming year. A slight majority of those polled favor giving felons who can't pay their fees the right to vote.
In 2018, voters passed a Constitutional amendment to allow people with felony convictions to regain their voting rights after they complete their sentences. But state lawmakers tacked on a provision that requires them to pay off existing fees first.
St. Leo Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando notes the amendment passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, which means it got broad support from Republicans.
"But, in terms of the implementation, people who are kind of seeking to slow down the increase in voting rights for these ex-felons have been able to message this in terms of fairness, or in terms of continuing to pay their debts to society," he said.
"And if you look at the cross tabs on this, it tracks pretty closely with Republican and Democratic voter ID - but Democrats still having more Republicans in favor than Democrats who are against," Orlando said.
Statewide, nearly half of those polled support allowing felons to vote even if they cannot pay fees or fines from their sentences, with about 41 percent opposed.
On Dec. 17, the Hillsborough State Attorney's office announced it's starting a program aimed at giving convicted felons back their right to vote. And it revolves around money.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has teamed with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which was involved in the drafting of Amendment 4. They will create a process to have an attorney review what financial barriers ex-felons face, and get help in paying it off.