Jun 28, 2019

Florida governor signs law to make ex-felons pay fines before voting

This image is a side profile of Ron DeSantis wearing a suit.

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law on Friday to require previously convicted felons to pay fees and fines before having their voting rights restored, Politico reports.

What's happening: The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law filed a federal lawsuit Friday in response to the new state law, saying in a statement it "undermines Floridians’ overwhelming support for Amendment 4."

Context: Amendment 4, which 5 million Floridians voted for last November, proposed allowing ex-felons who completed their sentences to vote. The ACLU and NAACP's joint lawsuit with NYU Law cites violations of the 1st, 14th and 15th Amendments.

  • State Republican lawmakers claimed their interest was clarifying “ambiguities” in the amendment. However, Democrats and voter rights groups argue that the measure intends to restrict the number of new voters in the battleground state, per Politico.
  • DeSantis said it was a “mistake” that Amendment 4 "restored voting rights to those convicted of violent offenses such as armed robbery and kidnapping," Politico reports. However, he indicated he could potentially support policy to restore other civil rights to former felons convicted of non-violent crimes.

Go deeper: Florida Republicans: Ex-felons can vote, after paying fines

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