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Florida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay off fines before voting

Florida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay off fines before voting

by AUDREY MCNAMARA, CBS News  |  Published on January 17, 2020

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a law requiring convicted felons to pay off any fines or fees related to their sentence before being able to vote is fair. The opinion sided with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who had upheld the Republican-controlled legislatures’ decision.

The issue arose after Florida voters n 2018 overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, that amended the state’s constitution to give voting rights to former felons — restoring nearly 1.4 million people’s right to vote. Republican lawmakers argued that the bill should be more narrowly defined.

The specific amendment’s wording, “all terms of sentence,” quickly became a flashpoint in the state. In June 2019, DeSantis signed S.B. 7066, requiring all financial obligations be paid off before a convicted felon can vote.

DeSantis then requested an advisory opinion from the high court over the issue but did not ask them to determine its constitutionality. Instead, the governor confined his request to whether “all terms of sentence” included legal financial obligations, or LFOs, incurred during a sentence.

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