Opinion: Court Fines Should Not Keep Those Who Served Their Time From Voting

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jim Pierce, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, wrote this in support of the Campaign Legal Center, which represents individuals denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction. Our forefathers didn’t envision that economics would play a role in whether someone could vote or not. In fact, I think fair and equal economics was a leading reason for our democracy being established. University of Florida political scientist Dan Smith found that 82% of the 1.5 million whose voting rights were restored by Amendment 4 would be disenfranchised once again because they owe the state money and you are twice as likely to be in this group if you are black compared to white. Even a $500 fee presents an insurmountable barrier for many people with felonies because Florida has a “highly decentralized” system, making it difficult to track in-state, out of state, and federal government crimes and fines. Simply put, this restriction is nothing more than a poll tax.

Read the full opinion here.