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General News    H3'ed 2/19/20

Court Rules Florida Law Limiting Voting Rights of Poor Ex-cons Unconstitutional

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It is unconstitutional for Florida to demand that poor returning citizens repay criminal justice debt before they get their franchise restored under a constitutional amendment passed by Sunshine State voters in 2018, a three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled on Feb. 19.

But a spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state disagrees with the decision and would appeal it to the entire 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. State leaders are defending a law -- SB 7066 -- that requires returning citizens to repay fees, fines and restitution imposed as part of a sentence before they can register to vote.

Legal observers say this case may ultimately land up at the United States Supreme Court. 

Concerned about costs, I’ve asked DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferre how much the state has spent to date on legal challenges to Amendment 4, which 64.55% of voters approved on Nov. 6, 2018.  I have not gotten an answer to my email, but will keep trying.

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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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