Appeals Court Deals Floridians Setback in Fight for Voting Rights

A group of people outdoors holding signs.
People participate in a rally in support of Amendment 4 in Florida. Photo by ACLU.

On July 1, 2020, a federal appeals court granted the state of Florida’s request to stop the expansion of voting rights to hundreds of thousands of voters who were deemed eligible to participate in the 2020 election by a lower court ruling. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear the case while the implementation of the lower court ruling is suspended.

This is a setback for voting rights.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and partners are hopeful that the full court of appeals will confirm once and for all that wealth cannot determine a person’s eligibility to vote.

CLC sued last year on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and all Florida citizens affected by Florida’s law. CLC’s suit – the only one brought as a class action – ensures that future rulings apply broadly to all voters seeking voting rights restoration in Florida.

In May, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled that conditioning rights restoration on the payment of costs and fees constitutes a poll tax, that Floridians genuinely unable to pay their financial obligations could not be denied the right to vote, and that the state’s inability to track and identify disqualifying financial obligations violated Floridians’ due process rights.

The state was ordered to follow a procedure to ensure that individuals who cannot pay their legal financial obligations are not denied the right to vote, including by determining indigency.

Florida holds primary elections on August 18, and the deadline to register for the primary is July 20.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter