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Supreme Court won't block Florida law limiting felons' voting rights

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to block Florida's rules that prevent some convicted felons from voting — a temporary win that will leave the state's restrictions in place into the fall, if not longer.

Why it matters: This legal dispute will ultimately determine whether hundreds of thousands of Floridians are eligible to vote — enough to swing an election.


The background: Florida voters approved a measure in 2o18 to restore felons' voting rights after they've completed their sentences. But Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) then signed a law that said felons would only get their voting rights back after they've not only served out their prison terms, but also paid any outstanding fines and penalties.

  • A judge ruled DeSantis' restrictions unconstitutional, but a federal appeals court has allowed them to take effect while the legal dispute over their merits continues.
  • Voting rights advocates asked the Supreme Court to intervene and put the state's payment requirements on ice while the case works its way through the courts. The court declined that request today.

The other side: Three of the liberal justices dissented, saying the court should have temporarily frozen DeSantis' restrictions.

  • "This Court’s inaction continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.

What's next: Felons who haven't paid off their fines and penalties will not be able to register to vote in time for the state's primaries next month. Whether they'll be able to vote in November is up to the appeals court.

  • In addition to preventing new voters from registering, these rulings are also leaving in limbo some 85,000 people who have already registered, per the AP.

Read the dissenting opinion via DocumentCloud.

Democrats look to Kamala Harris as bridge to next generation

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

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Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

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States beg for Warp Speed billions to distribute COVID-19 vaccines

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.

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Court rules Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day

An appeals court on Thursday ruled that Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Why it matters: The ruling, which comes just five days before the election, blocks the state's plan to count absentee ballots arriving late so long as they're postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered within a week of the election. Now those ballots must be set aside and marked late.

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Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

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U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

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The norms around science and politics are cracking

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.

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Apple sets September quarter sales record despite pandemic

Apple on Thursday reported quarterly sales and earnings that narrowly exceeded analysts estimates as the iPhone maker continued to see strong demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they's saying: The company said response to new products, including the iPhone 12 has been "tremendously positive" but did not give a specific forecast for the current quarter.

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