Court Rules that Florida Cannot Deny the Right to Vote Based on Inability to Pay Fines and Fees
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Judge Robert Hinkle for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued an opinion ruling that it is unconstitutional to deny individuals with past convictions the right to vote based on their inability to pay fines and fees. The decision restores the right to vote to plaintiffs who are otherwise eligible to vote but are unable to pay off their outstanding fines, fees and restitution.
The court likened SB 7066’s failure to account for inability to pay to a statute that automatically restored the right to vote only to people with a net worth of $100,000: “Would anyone contend this was constitutional? One hopes not. An official who adopts a constitutional theory that would approve such a statute needs a new constitutional theory.”
“We are pleased that the court’s decision today affirms our position that lack of wealth cannot be a barrier to one’s ability to vote,” said Mark Gaber, director, trial litigation at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “The court has recognized that Florida can’t deny people the right to vote based on their ability to pay.”
CLC filed a lawsuit challenging SB 7066 the same day it was signed, and currently represents three individual plaintiffs who would otherwise be denied the right to vote under SB 7066 because they are unable to off their fines and fees: Bonnie Raysor of Boynton Beach, Diane Sherrill of St. Petersburg and Lee Hoffman of Plant City.
The case is called Jones v. DeSantis.