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Court Filings & Opinions Democracy & Voting Rights

Jones v. DeSantis

Florida restored voting rights to felons as long as certain conditions are met and one of those conditions requires legal financial obligations.

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Florida restored voting rights to felons as long as certain conditions are met and one of those conditions requires legal financial obligations.

 

Overview:

In 2018, Florida had passed a constitutional amendment to allow people with felonies to restore their voting rights. Before restoring that right, there were certain conditions that had to be met before such as completing all terms in your sentence like probation. In addition to this condition, the state legislature passed SB 7066 to include financial obligations to be met as well. In implementing this new law, it created unconstitutional impediments to convicted felons who were trying to restore their constitutional right to vote. It created a poll tax that disenfranchised lower class citizens since they might not have had the financial means to meet this condition. 

SB 7066 created a condition that denied convicted felons from obtaining the right to vote if they had outstanding fines, fees, or restitution. In discriminating against voters with the basis of this new law it violated the 1st amendment, the 14th amendment’s equal protection and due process clause, and the 24th amendment prohibiting any poll tax.  As a result, the court order for the Secretary’s motion to be denied and granted the plaintiffs’ preliminary-injunction motion. The Secretary of State cannot prevent the individual plaintiff from applying or registering to vote and the financial obligation that is required of convicted felons will not prevent them from voting if they prove they are truly unable to pay the financial obligation. At the same time, if the plaintiff fails to pay the financial obligation and has the means to do so, then the Secretary can notify the Supervisor of Elections that will make the plaintiffs ineligible to vote.

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