Federal court rules Florida’s “pay-to-vote” system violates the U.S. Constitution.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — In response to the ruling on SB 7066 by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle, League of Women Voters of Florida President Patricia Brigham released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling by U.S District Judge Robert Hinkle finally clears up an argument that should not have taken place. The voters were clear in 2018 when more than 64% of the electorate voted in favor of Amendment 4, which restored the constitutional right to vote to ex-felons not convicted of murder and felony sexual assault. But after the passage of Amendment 4, the Florida Legislature, via SB 7066, sought to ensure that ex-felons, without the means to pay back all financial obligations, would essentially endure a lifetime ban on voting.

The League and our partners, which include the seventeen individually named plaintiffs, the Brennan Center for Justice and national and state entities of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), have reiterated time and time again that a citizen’s bank account should never determine whether they can participate in our democracy.

Prior to Amendment 4’s passage, Florida was the most unforgiving and restrictive state in the nation when it came to ex-felons and voting. Amendment 4 ended the 100-year-old disenfranchisement policy first put in place to undermine the power of black voters after emancipation. Judge Hinkle’s ruling ensures Florida will stop suppressing voting access to the estimated 774,000 former felons impacted by SB 7066.

The League of Women Voters of Florida thanks the court for remaining consistent in placing people over politics, which is the stance the League and our partners have maintained since the start of our Amendment 4 campaign prior to the 2018 midterm election. Together we abolished voter disenfranchisement born out of racist Jim Crow laws.

Should the State of Florida request an appeal to Judge Hinkle’s ruling, the League of Women Voters of Florida and our partners will continue to fight to protect the voting rights that the majority of Floridians restored to our returning citizens.”