Federal court: Florida can't bar felons from vote over fines, fees

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 11:25 AM EST
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By: The Associated Press

February 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they have failed to pay all fines and fees stemming from their cases.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a Tallahassee federal judge's decision that the law implementing Amendment 4 amounted to an unfair poll tax.

Amendment 4 was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 to allow as many as 1.6 million ex-felons to regain their right to vote.

Proclaiming the land CEO, Reverend Gregory James, said that this decision is positive but a lot of work still needs to be done.

"Because these 17 people have given some sign of hope to folk who have fines and fees," said Reverend James. "It's a history moment, but we have to fight to make this moment complete."

The Republican-led Legislature passed a law saying they had to pay any fines and fees first. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to ask the full 11th Circuit to reconsider the ruling.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.