The ACLU and other rights groups filed a lawsuit on Friday immediately after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law that requires people with felony convictions to pay all court fees and fines to be eligible to vote.
In November 2018, Florida passed a monumental constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to more than a million people with felony convictions. However, the legislation signed by DeSantis undermines the will of Florida’s voters by requiring that all terms of a sentence must be completed in order to regain the right to vote, which includes paying fines and court fees that can range from a few hundred to tens of millions of dollars.
Voting rights advocates argue that placing a price tag on the right to vote is unconstitutional and that the law amounts to a poll tax because poor people and people of color are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system in Florida. The ACLU explained that it brought the lawsuit on behalf of a group of 10 people with felony convictions because “[t]he new law creates two classes of returning citizens: a group wealthy enough to afford their voting rights and another group who cannot afford to vote. But the right to vote should not come with a price tag.”