TALLAHASSEE, FL — (05-25-20) — U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down parts of a Florida Law on Sunday, that required over 430K ex-felons to pay back court costs, fees, and victim restitution before registering to vote. The ruling is sure to have a major impact in the nation’s largest swing state in November.
The ruling stems from the statewide ballot initiative from 2018 that passed overwhelmingly to allow ex-felons to be allowed to vote, known as Amendment 4.
The exceptions to those convicted of murder, sexual assault were of course shared by both sides. The amendment won wide support and bipartisan endorsements, eventually passing with over two-thirds of the vote.
During the 2019 session of the Florida Legislature a bill passed that included all unpaid court fees, fines, and restitution in that definition of “all terms.” While activists protested, went on political shows condemning the language in the bill, Republicans still passed the bill.
In other words, all debt must be paid before an ex-felon would be allowed to register to vote!
However U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle called the law a “pay-to-vote” system and unconstitutional to apply to “individuals who are otherwise eligible to vote but are genuinely unable to pay the required amount.” Hinkle also found the law’s requirement to pay “amounts that are unknown and cannot be determined with diligence” unconstitutional.
Knowing the Republican party as we know it today, they are sure to appeal as CBS Miami political investigative reporter Jim DeFede said..”The courts seem inclined to fast track any future proceedings, in an effort to decisively resolve this case before the fall election.” said DeFede.
Here is what the bottom line is, hundreds of thousands of potential votes for democrats, Independents and Republicans. After Amendment 4 restored voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million ex-felons in Florida, and with hundreds of thousands of them unable to pay the requirements for voting, its no wonder the GOP are going to appeal this as fast as they can. Hoping to get a conservative majority on appeal.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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