Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that the efforts of Florida Republicans to alter an modification restoring rights for felons are “a ballot tax by every other identify.” On Tuesday, a Florida Home committee accredited a invoice that will require former felons to pay again all courtroom charges, prices and “any monetary obligation” earlier than gaining eligibility to vote.
Critics have raised concerns the bill would inhibit felons from voting and is being used to alter the passage of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights for about 1.4 million people when it was passed in November with almost 65 percent of the vote.
Former felons have been registering to vote since January.
The legislation presented in the House would change “automatic” restoration of voting rights for ex-felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation,” language approved by voters in November.
“The word ‘completion’ itself has all sorts of new requirements” that voters couldn’t have anticipated, Julie Ebenstein, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Voting Rights project told Newsweek. “This really looks like a modification and diminishment of the rights that Florida voters voted for,” she continued.
Ebenstein noted that the bill would “disenfranchise huge categories of returning citizens, most likely for life.” The legislation seeks to require “full payment of the financial obligation or waiver 192 of the financial obligation with the consent of the payee.” These financial obligations include restitution and “any cost of supervision or other monetary obligation 209 described in s. 948.039,” the bill says.
“In effect this will disenfranchise people who are too poor to pay some of the costs that are associated with a conviction,” Ebenstein said.
The bill would also alter what is considered a felony sexual offense. Murder and felony sexual offense are crimes for which offenders will not automatically have their voting rights restored after release, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Republicans backed the measure while Democrats opposed it.
Republicans have said they need direction from lawmakers regarding the implementation of the amendment.
“To suggest that this is a poll tax inherently diminishes the atrocity of what a poll tax actually was,” Republican Representative Jamie Grant said. “All we’re doing is following statute. All we’re doing is following the testimony of what was introduced earlier than the Florida Supreme Court docket explicitly acknowledging that fines and courtroom prices are a part of a sentence.”
The state Home Speaker and Grant didn’t instantly reply to Newsweek when contacted for additional remark.