The Florida Legislature must act now to fix their previous mistakes and comply with the U.S. Constitution.
ORLANDO, FLA. Jan. 16, 2020 — In response to the Florida Supreme Court advisory opinion on implementation of Amendment 4, the League of Women Voters of Florida President Patricia Brigham offers the following statement:
“While the League of Women Voters and our partners in this case are disappointed in today’s advisory opinion it is important to note that the Court was not asked by the governor to, and did not, answer the question of when all terms of sentence are complete.
Federal courts and a federal judge have already answered the important question, “what can be required of someone before they get their voting rights back?” The federal court has expressed that Florida cannot deny voting rights to people who are unable to pay their obligations, and nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion can change that.
Though disappointing, this opinion leaves plenty of room for the Florida Legislature to fix its previous mistake and comply with the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits making the right to vote contingent on the payment of obligations that people cannot afford. The prohibition of making the right to vote contingent on the payment of taxes is also clearly outlined as unconstitutional.
The League of Women Voters of Florida will continue to urge the state legislature to use its power to fix this. The League will also continue to stand strong on the ideal that a citizen’s bank account should never be what determines whether they can participate in our democracy. The legislature must abide by the U.S. Constitution when deciding when a sentence is complete. If they choose not to, we are confident the federal courts will.”