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Florida Supreme Court Permits Modern-Day Poll Tax: Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement after the Florida Supreme Court undermined the will of Sunshine State voters who overwhelmingly voted to change their Constitution. The change, made in 2018, let returning citizens register to vote after they completed the terms of their sentence imposed by a judge. The conservative justices issued their advisory opinion Thursday; the trial for a federal lawsuit will be held in April. But this is a political issue as well as a legal one. Folks have a right to voice their opinion.

Contact: Graeme Crews
(334) 224-0002

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The following statement regarding the Florida Supreme Court Amendment 4 decision from this morning is by Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"The Florida Supreme Court's decision is disappointing and cuts the 1.4 million people who voters expressly intended to re-enfranchise almost in half. By holding Floridians' right to vote hostage, the Florida Supreme Court is permitting the unconstitutional modern-day poll tax in SB 7066, and redefining an amendment nearly 65 percent of Florida voters approved of in 2018.

"Floridians like our clients, Rosemary McCoy and Sheila Singleton, are unable to overcome the financial barrier to voting that SB 7066 presents - potentially for the remainder of their lives. A person's lifetime participation in our democratic process cannot and should not be conditioned on their wealth. This is the reason a federal judge has already blocked in part the implementation of SB 7066.

"The federal court has also put the Florida Legislature and state officials on notice to solve the administrative chaos triggered by the law. This was all avoidable had the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis allowed Amendment 4 to be self-executing, as written and intended. The movement that began to pass Amendment 4 was never going to go away after last year's election, but it is needed now more than ever to ensure everyone who is eligible to vote can register, and does so.

"Despite the dangerous decision today from a conservative court, Floridians without court debt and without the ability to pay existing court debt, should know they can legally register to vote. Their participation in our democratic process will make Florida stronger."

(Article changed on January 17, 2020 at 11:27)

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Steve Schneider lives in Florida. He writes articles for Humor Times, Democracy Chronicles, The Satirist and OpEd News.

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