Federal Court Strikes Down Florida Poll Tax

Federal Court Strikes Down Florida Poll Tax April 3, 2020

In 2016, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to restore voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences. Ever since, Republicans have tried everything they could to undermine that idea, including passing a law requiring them to pay back every fine and court fee before being allowed to vote. A federal appeals court just struck that down as an illegal poll tax.

A federal court struck down a Florida law which denied individuals with prior felony convictions the right to vote if they could not afford to pay certain fees and fines. Tuesday’s decision may ultimately restore the right to vote for some 1.4 million Floridians who would have otherwise been eligible to vote but for the law making that right contingent upon their ability to pay off outstanding fines, fees and restitution…

“That ruling sent a clear message: You can’t condition the right to vote on a person’s wealth,” Sean Morales-Doyle, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law explained in a statement, “It’s been almost six months since the court warned Florida it was violating the Constitution, and the state has done nothing to fix the problem. We hope that with this decision, they will turn their attention towards a solution.”…

The 78-page opinion by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is an all-but total victory for voting rights and Civil Rights advocates who have long complained that Sunshine State Republicans had effectively resurrected Florida’s racist poll tax of the Jim Crow Era under a poorly-disguised legal garb.

“The court unanimously ruled that a person’s right to vote cannot be contingent upon their ability to pay,” said Julie Ebenstein, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project in a press release. “This law is a modern-day poll tax. This ruling recognizes the gravity of elected officials trying to circumvent Amendment 4 to create roadblocks to voting based on wealth.”

This is part of the Republican agenda to prevent as many people to vote as possible because they know that they would lose if everyone could vote, as Trump blatantly admitted just the other day.


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