Appeals Court Leaves in Place Florida’s Pay-to-Vote Scheme

People holding signs that say 'Let Florida Vote' in a rally
People participate in a rally in support of Amendment 4 in Florida. Photo by ACLU.

On Sept. 11, 2020, an appeals court ruled that the state of Florida can condition voting rights on an individual’s ability to pay, reversing a lower court’s decision and prohibiting otherwise eligible citizens who owe fines and fees associated with a past felony conviction from voting this fall.

This is a deeply disappointing decision. While the full rights restoration envisioned by Amendment 4 has become less likely to be realized this fall, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), its partners, and our clients will continue this fight for all Florida voters, so the full benefits of Amendment 4 will someday be realized.

Florida’s voters spoke loud and clear when nearly two-thirds of them supported rights restoration at the ballot box in 2018. Nobody should ever be denied their constitutional rights because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.

CLC filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision that would prevent hundreds of thousands of Floridians from registering and voting in this critical election year. But the Supreme Court declined to do so. The full federal appeals court then agreed to hear the case.

CLC sued in 2019 on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and a class of all affected Florida citizens. CLC’s suit – the only one brought as a class action – ensured that the ultimate ruling applies broadly to all voters seeking voting rights restoration in Florida.

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