(Reuters) – Florida’s Republican governor on Friday signed a invoice to revive the voting rights for felons who’ve served their time however he needs them to pay all fines and restitution earlier than casting a poll, a hurdle that instantly drew a lawsuit from civil rights teams.
FILE PHOTO: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) arrives at a memorial service on the one-year anniversary of the taking pictures which claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, Florida, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Picture
Governor Ron DeSantis opposed a poll measure that Florida voters overwhelmingly permitted in November permitting felons to vote after they full their sentence, with exceptions for these convicted of homicide and sexual offenses.
The newly enacted legislation would restrict voting rights to convicted felons who’ve wealth, disenfranchising many others who can not pay their charges, civil rights teams stated.
“This legislation will disproportionately influence black Floridians with a felony conviction, who face the intersecting boundaries of accessing jobs in a state with long-standing wealth and employment disparities,” Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation on the NAACP Authorized Protection and Academic Fund, stated in a press release.
The Florida poll measure launched one of many largest enfranchisement efforts in trendy U.S. historical past, with greater than 1 million folks doubtlessly eligible to regain their proper to vote in a state with a inhabitants of 21 million.
DeSantis, in a signing assertion, stated the legislation “confirms that the modification doesn’t apply to a felon who has failed to finish all of the phrases of his sentence.”
The textual content of the newly enacted legislation states that felons looking for to regain their proper to vote should pay fines or restitution to victims as ordered by a court docket.
A federal lawsuit filed on Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union and different teams accused officers of denying the rights of Florida felons below the U.S. Structure by imposing the requirement for fines and restitution.
A consultant for DeSantis didn’t return a name or electronic mail looking for touch upon the lawsuit.
DeSantis had stated in December the Republican-controlled legislature would want to cross a legislation to implement the poll measure permitted by voters, drawing the ire of Democrats who accused him of making an attempt to subvert the desire of the folks.
Florida started barring ex-felons from voting about 150 years in the past, after slaves have been freed in the course of the Civil Battle. African-People, who favor the Democratic Get together, have been disproportionately affected by felon voter disenfranchisement.
A number of different states proceed to bar folks convicted of sure crimes from voting after they serve their sentence. However greater than a dozen enable felons to forged a poll after they depart jail or jail, whereas in Maine and Vermont felons can vote from behind bars.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Modifying by Lisa Shumaker