NewsLocal News


Experts weigh in on court allowing ex-felons to vote without paying fines and fees

Court says Florida can't bar felons from vote over fines
Posted at 12:33 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 00:33:51-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals voted Amendment 4’s requirement that ex-convicted felons pay all legal fees and fines before regaining their right to vote was unjust and disenfranchised many from being eligible to vote.

"Voting is the core piece of our democracy, ” said Daniel Tilley of the American Civil Liberties Union.

This ruling accounts for nearly 65 percent of felons who cannot afford to pay.

Hours after the ruling a spokesperson for Governor Ron-Desantis released this statement saying “ we disagree with the ruling”. He is set to appeal.

The majority of Floridians voted in support of Amendment 4 in 2018.

Florida Gulf Coast University professor Peter Bergerson says many republicans are fearful this will have a major effect on the outcome of upcoming elections.

“They may lose control of Florida legislature, and or congressional and U.S. Senate seats, ” said Bergerson.

The majority of Florida’s ex-felon population are African-Americans, the American Civil Liberties Union says today’s ruling was a major victory for communities of color.

“Black folks coming out of prison are disproportionately impoverished and have disproportionately higher fees associated with their sentences, ” said Daniel Tilley.

Over 1 million Florida citizens are now eligible to vote.

“What matters is that they actually have a say in how their communities go and how their state goes, ” said Tilley.

Both experts believe that Governor DeSantis’’ appeal will not be successful, instead, it is a ploy to suppress voters.

“They are trying to do everything they can to spread doubt, spread confusion, and essentially spread the belief that people can’t vote, ” said Tilley.

“Inclusion, not exclusion. You win by addition, not subtraction, ” said Bergerson.

Convicted felons in Florida who cannot afford to pay fines and fees will still be eligible to vote in upcoming elections.