Trump could still vote for himself in Florida unless he ends up in jail – Orlando Sentinel

NEW YORK — Convicted felon Donald Trump lives in Florida, a state notorious for restricting the voting rights of people with such convictions, but he can still vote in the Sunshine State if he stays out of prison in New York.

That's because Florida applies other states' voting rules to residents convicted of an out-of-state crime. In the Trump case, New York state law disenfranchises people convicted of a crime only if they are incarcerated.

Once they are released from prison, their rights will automatically be restored, even if they are on parole, under a law passed in 2021 by the state's Democratic-controlled legislature.

“When a Floridian's right to vote is restored in the state of conviction, it will be done under Florida state law,” Blair Bowie of the Campaign Legal Center wrote in a post explaining the legal situation, noting that people without Trump's legal resources are often confused by Florida's complex rules.

So as long as Trump stays out of jail, he can vote for himself in Florida's November election.

Trump is a native of New York and settled in Florida in 2019 during his time in the White House.

As expected, reactions in Florida ran along party lines: Republicans sharply criticized the ruling, while Democrats supported it.

“Today's verdict represents the culmination of a trial that was subject to the political will of the actors involved: a left-wing prosecutor, a partisan judge, and a jury reflecting one of America's most liberal enclaves – all in an effort to 'get' Donald Trump,” Governor Ron DeSantis posted on his official page on X, formerly Twitter. “…If the defendant weren't Donald Trump, this case would never have gone to trial.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from South Florida, wrote on X: “The conviction of a former president is not a cause for celebration, but it is an affirmation that no one is above the law. This verdict was reached by a jury of Trump's colleagues, citizens of the American justice system, not a judge or a political opponent.”

Even if Trump is re-elected president, he will not be able to pardon himself of state charges in New York. The president's pardon power only applies to federal crimes.

His conviction is just the latest step in his legal odyssey through the New York court system. Judge Juan M. Merchan has scheduled sentencing for July 11. He could receive up to four years behind bars or probation.

Trump has already indicated he plans to appeal after months of criticizing the case and attacking the Manhattan district attorney who brought it and Merchan.

But long before that appeal is heard, Trump will fall into the clutches of New York's criminal justice system.

A pre-sentence report includes recommendations based on the defendant's criminal record – Trump had none before this case – his personal history and the crime itself. The former president was found guilty of falsifying business records for paying Stormy Daniels $130,000 to buy her silence. The porn star says she had a brief sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.

At the preliminary hearing, a psychologist or social worker from the probation department may also speak with Trump, and during that conversation the defendant can “try to make a good impression and explain why he or she deserves a lighter sentence,” according to the New York State Unified Court System.

The pre-sentence report may also include statements from the defense and describe whether “the defendant is participating in a counseling program or has a permanent job.”

Trump's reasoning, of course, is that he is running for a permanent position – so to speak – as President of the United States, a campaign that could be complicated by his new status as a felon. Trump will likely be required to report regularly to a parole officer, and travel restrictions could be put in place that could limit his campaign.

There is no legal prohibition against Trump running for president or serving as president at all as a convicted prisoner.

Trump was convicted of 34 Class E felonies, the lowest level of severity in New York, each of which carries a possible sentence of up to four years in prison. Probation or house arrest are other options Merchan may consider.

However, Merchan has previously indicated that he takes white collar crimes seriously, and if he were to order prison time, he would likely impose the sentences concurrently, meaning Trump would have to serve time for all of the charges he was convicted of concurrently.

If Trump were sentenced to probation instead, he could still go to prison if it turns out he committed other crimes. He currently faces three other criminal cases: two at the federal level involving his handling of classified documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and a state-level case in Georgia involving election interference.

Trump's lawyers are expected to file an appeal before the verdict is announced – a simple procedure that must be followed immediately.

Because he was convicted of nonviolent crimes, Trump is unlikely to be imprisoned pending sentencing, and sentencing could be delayed while the appeal is pending. That could delay a sentence beyond Election Day, as an appeal could take months to hear and decide.

The outcome represents some satisfaction for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who had described the case as one about election interference rather than hush money and defended it against criticism from legal experts who had called it the weakest of the four charges against Trump.

But the case gained significance not only because it was tried first in court, but also because it may have been the only case to go to a jury before the election.

The other three cases — local and federal indictments in Atlanta and Washington accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, and a federal indictment in Florida accusing him of illegally hoarding top-secret documents — are stuck in delays or appeals.

If Merchan imposes a sentence that puts the former president behind bars, Trump would be no ordinary prisoner.

The U.S. Secret Service is required by law to provide 24-hour protection to former presidents, meaning its agents would have to protect Trump in prison if he were serving a prison sentence.

“This is, of course, uncharted territory,” said Martin Horn, who has worked at the highest levels of the New York and Pennsylvania state prison authorities and served as head of New York's corrections and parole departments. “Certainly no state prison system has ever dealt with anything like this before, and no federal prison either.”

The Associated Press and the New York Times contributed to this report.

Anna Harden

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