U.S. SUPREME COURT SAYS FLORIDA EX-FELONS CAN’T VOTE IN 2020 ELECTION
By: Hali E. Marsocci, Esq.
On July 16, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to temporarily block ex-felons in Florida from voting. This decision makes it unlikely that those individuals affected will be allowed to vote in the state’s upcoming primary election. It is also possible that these individuals will be prevented from voting in the presidential election – a crucial election that will occur in November. Nearly one million individuals may be affected – a large number of potential voters that could significantly impact the results in Florida.
Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagan joined in a written dissent to the Court’s opinion. The dissent stated that this decision “allows the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to disrupt Florida’s election process just days before the July 20 voter-registration deadline for the August primary.” You can read the full dissenting opinion here.
In 2018, Amendment 4 was on the ballot and was approved by Florida voters. The effect of the approval of the amendment was that voting rights would be restored to Florida felons who had completed their sentences. However, things became blurry when Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill in 2019 that required felons to pay all unpaid fines, fees, and restitution, in addition to completing their sentences, before being eligible to vote. The dissenting Justices say this “prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor” and Justice Sotomayor called this policy a “voter paywall”.
The right to vote is a civic duty of the American people. The deadline to register for the Florida primary election is July 20, and the deadline to register for the November presidential election is October 5. If you have not done so already, register and get to the polls to vote, whether it be by mail or in person.
You can register to vote by clicking here.