In 2020, many former felons in Florida will have the opportunity to cast their votes.
That’s thanks to the passing of Amendment 4 in 2018, which restored voting rights to 1.6 million Floridians who served time for felony convictions.
However, that right for former felons to have their voices heard at the ballot box might not be absolute.
The Florida Legislature passed a law in 2019 that requires former felons to pay all outstanding court fees or fines before voting rights may be restored—regardless if they completed parole and probation.
This law made 80% of Florida felons who already did their time ineligible to vote.
Voting rights groups have sued the state to help these Florida residents regain their voting rights.
In February 2020, a federal appeals court ruled that the law was unconstitutional and unfair to the 17 felons mentioned in the suit. The State has appealed that ruling and a full trial on the matter is expected to begin in April. Chances are high this case could make its way to the Supreme Court, where the outcome could impact the voting rights of felons across the nation.
Below, we’ve provided frequently asked questions about Florida felon voting rights.
However, this issue is a reminder of the rights that would be taken away if you’re ever convicted of a felony. For example, convicted felons cannot sit on a jury, hold public office, or possess a firearm. Additionally, felony convictions can impede your opportunities for employment, obtaining a driver’s license, or renting a home.
If you find yourself facing a felony conviction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Fusco Law Group at (904) 567-3113.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Felon Voting Rights in 2020
How Does Amendment 4 Restore Voting Rights to Florida Felons?
In 2018, Florida voters passed with 64.55% of the votes for the Voting Restoration Amendment (Amendment 4) to be part of the Florida Constitution effective January 8, 2019. The amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole and probation. It did not automatically restore voting rights to Floridians convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
How Does Florida Senate Bill 7066 Prevent Felons from Registering to Vote?
Florida Senate Bill 7066, signed into law by Governor DeSantis in 2019, requires felons to pay outstanding fees before voting rights restoration. The bill focuses on the “completion of all terms of sentence” language in the Voting Restoration Amendment (Amendment 4) passed by Florida voters in 2018.
Voting right groups argue that the bill is unconstitutional because it discriminates Florida residents with felony convictions based on wealth. An estimated 1.12 million former felons owing fines or fees above $500 are unable to pay and would be ineligible to register to vote.
How Would a Florida Felon Know if Their Voting Rights have been Restored?
Florida Felons who have completed their sentence can confirm if their voting rights were automatically restored by searching for their Restoration of Civil Rights certificate at the Office of Executive Clemency Florida Commission on Offender Review website: fpcweb.fcor.state.fl.us
Will Florida Felons with Their Voting Rights Restored Automatically Be Registered to Vote?
To participate in an election, Florida felons with their voting rights restored will need to register to vote at least 29 days before an election day. Registration can be done at the local Supervisor of Elections Office, at a voter registration agency, a voter registration event, or by mail.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you’re facing a felony conviction, get the legal help you need.
An experienced Fusco Law Group Attorney can help you understand your position and develop a game plan for the best possible outcome in your situation.
Contact the Fusco Law Group: (904) 567-3113 for a free consultation.