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Press Release » Voting Rights Groups Applaud Federal Appeals Court Ruling on Florida Law That Undermines Voting Rights Restoration

Voting Rights Groups Applaud Federal Appeals Court Ruling on Florida Law That Undermines Voting Rights Restoration

February 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal appeals court upheld a ruling blocking the Florida law that created financial hurdles to voting and significantly curtailed Florida’s Voting Restoration Amendment, also known as Amendment 4, which sought to end lifetime disenfranchisement and automatically restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians. The law (SB7066) passed by the Florida Legislature in 2019 would have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Florida voters by making the ability to vote contingent on returning citizens’ ability to pay all legal financial obligations.  The League of Women Voters of Florida, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, the ACLU of Florida, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund challenged Florida’s law and had the following reactions to today’s ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

 “Florida voters were clear when more than 64% of them voted for Amendment 4 and this is an absolute win for returning citizens and the will of our state’s voters,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “We’ve stood strong in our belief that a citizen’s bank account should never be what determines whether they can participate in our democracy.”

 “A resounding statement about the sanctity of the right to vote has been sounded,” said Cecile Scoon, 1st vice president and Restoration of Rights chair of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “The League looks forward to the final hearing on these issues scheduled before the federal trial court in April.”

“This is a great win for voting rights!” said Myrna Perez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. “The Eleventh Circuit told the state of Florida what the rest of America already knows. You can’t condition the right to vote on a person’s wealth.”  

“The Voting Restoration Amendment passed with 5.2 million votes and was one of the largest expansions of voting rights in United States history,” said Daniel Tilley, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “Despite the state’s best efforts to dismantle Amendment 4 through SB7066, today’s ruling affirms what Floridians intended when they passed Amendment 4–to restore to returning citizens their right to vote.” 

 “Today’s decision protects against Florida’s efforts to crassly undermine the historic citizen-led voter initiative that restored voting eligibility to more than 1.4 million individuals,” said Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation, NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “By affirming a preliminary finding that predicated the ability to vote based on wealth is unconstitutional — particularly when Black people with felony convictions disproportionately lack access to wealth — we are able to continue our fight to ensure that ultimately all Floridians whose voting rights were rightfully restored through Amendment 4 can exercise that right.”

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The League of Women Voters of Florida encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund works to register voters, provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates.

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