Florida’s move to give back to felons their right to vote has met opposition from Republicans in the state legislature. Florida voters in November 2018 approved an amendment to the state constitution to let ex-convicts who had committed felonies, except for those convicted of murder or felony sex offenses, vote once their sentences were complete. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called for lawmakers to clarify the amendment before it took effect.
A bill approved by a state Senate committee Tuesday would require released felons to pay court-ordered restitution before becoming eligible to vote. A similar measure under consideration in the House goes a step further to say all court fines and fees must also be paid. Critics say limiting voting rights based on payments at all will mean those with money can vote and those without cannot.
“It’s blatantly unconstitutional as a poll tax,” state Rep. Adam Hattersley, a Democrat, told the Tampa Bay Times. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican and a sponsor of the Senate bill, told the Orlando Sentinel he doesn’t expect the debate to end anytime soon. “I think everybody expects that this all will probably end up back before the Supreme Court at some juncture,” he said. —L.L. and Charissa Crotts