Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday requiring formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions to repay all fines and fees to courts before they can vote again. Civil rights groups say the measure is essentially a poll tax. A lawsuit filed by formerly incarcerated people and groups including the ACLU and the NAACP immediately followed the move.
Last November, 65% of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to 1.4 million people with nonviolent felonies who have fully completed their sentences, by overturning a Jim Crow-era law aimed at suppressing the black vote. But Republican lawmakers have been working to stop the measure from being fully implemented.
Following the signing of Friday’s bill, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the campaign to pass Amendment 4, announced a new fund to help those with past convictions pay off their fines and fees, and help them register to vote via the website WeGotTheVote.org. Click here to see our interviews with Desmond Meade, the head of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.