• Analysis

Two-thirds of Floridians gave ex-felons the right to vote—but GOP Gov. DeSantis keeps trying to block them

Remember when two-thirds of Floridians said ex-felons' had the right to vote? The other third doesn't

Unsplash / Heather Mount

Back in 2018, Florida voted overwhelmingly to restore voting rights to most felons who completed “all terms of their sentence.” (Those released for murder or sexual offenses were exempt.)

But now their restored right to vote may disappear.

Republicans don’t just cheat during elections

The GOP keeps trying to suppress the vote of ex-offenders. Here’s how you can help fight back. 2

Flickr / Michael Fleshman

After Amendment 4 passed 65%-35%, the 35% part decide to change the rules.

The state lawmakers passed a bill defining “all terms” to mean that all fines, fees, and restitution connected to a case would have to be paid before someone regained the right to vote. It’s the equivalent of a referee deciding that a field goal in football is now worth eleven points instead of three — a week after the game ended.

Yes, it’s a poll tax

Florida's Poll Tax on Life-Support

ArtVoice / Jaime Moses

So now there’s only one thing standing in the way of these ex-felons who have done their time. Money.

If the Amendment 4 revisionists have their way, in order for these former criminals to vote, they’ll need to pay all fines and fees associated with their incarceration. As heinous as that may sound, it’s even worse.

“I don’t know where you go, a one-stop shop, to get something that says you’ve paid all your fines and fees. I don’t know how they would be able to get that information.” — Toshia Brown, the chief of voter registration services at the Florida Department of State’s office

Exactly. Even the state has repeatedly admitted there is no centralized way of tracking what payments are owed or which payments have been made. Many have absolutely no idea of what they owe.

“If you can’t vote unless you pay back what you owe, but the state can’t tell you how much you owe — then you’ll never get your constitutional rights restored.” — Lisa Foster, Fines and Fees Justice Center

1868 seems like just yesterday

The GOP keeps trying to suppress the vote of ex-offenders. Here’s how you can help fight back. 4

Flickr / Michael Fleshman

Florida had barred those with felony convictions from voting for life — since 1868. The only way around that had been to go through the state’s clemency board, yet another complicated maze to navigate for those who had paid their dues.

Still time for justice

Trump and Biden face off on a dramatically altered political landscape


U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has accused the state of trying to “run out the clock” and hopes to resolve the case before the November presidential election.

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