Thursday, July 25, 2019


One in five African Americans were once disenfranchised in Florida. It took 150 years for Florida’s ex-felons to win back their right to vote only to have it snatch it away again.

Amendment 4 allowed ex-felons not convicted of murder or sexual offenses to vote once their sentences were completed. But Republican politicians crafted Senate Bill 7066, that now requires the former felons to have met all outstanding legal financial obligations, including court fees, often running to thousands of dollars, before being able to register.

As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of ex-felons who were able to rejoin the voting rolls when Amendment 4 passed in November now face being struck off again. An estimated 500,000-plus people are obstructed by financial obligations. It creates two classes of returning citizens, those who are wealthy enough to vote and those who cannot afford to. This disenfranchisement will be borne disproportionately by low-income individuals and racial minorities, due to longstanding and well-documented racial gaps in poverty and employment.

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