Florida Supreme Court rules people released after felony convictions must pay court fines before voting
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has won the latest battle over former felon voting rights.
On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion saying people released after a felony conviction can only vote once they've served "all terms of sentence." That includes any "fines, restitution, costs, and fees" issued in sentencing, the court ruled.
The opinion doesn't immediately change the legality of people voting after serving a sentence for a felony conviction, but could play a role in an ongoing case regarding released felons' rights, NBC News affiliate WESH reports. Advocates had previously sued Florida over its choice to block former felons from voting, and while a district court ruled against the state, Florida appealed the ruling and the case will face the U.S. Court of Appeals later this month. Those against Thursday's ruling often compare the mandate on paying off fines to a poll tax.
DeSantis, meanwhile, tweeted his appreciation for the ruling on Thursday afternoon.
I am pleased that @FLCourts confirms that Amendment 4 requires fines, fees & restitution be paid to victims before their voting rights may be restored. Voting is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, and I am obligated to faithfully implement Amendment 4 as it is defined.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 16, 2020
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