by Irwin R. Eisenstein –
The people of Florida passed a constitutional amendment that was intended to grant voting rights to non-violent felons. (It is expected that about 1,000,000 released felons would be allowed to vote. And the Majority would vote for the Democratic Party)
Florida Amendment 4, also the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative is an amendment to the Constitution of Florida passed by a ballot initiative on November 6, 2018.
Governor Ron Desantis asked the Florida Supreme Court to interpret the meaning of this amendment. The High Court declared that where Amendment 4’s language says felons must complete “all terms of sentence” that legally includes all “legal financial obligations,” notably all fines, fees, and restitution that judges may order them to pay.
The case went from the Federal District Court to the Federal Appellate court (11th Circuit) who found that the law as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court was unconstitutional. The Federal Appellate court sent it back down to the Federal District court. On May 24th of this year, The Federal District court issued an opinion of 125 pages criticizing the Florida Governor and Secretary of State because of the mess associated with granting voting rights or restoring voting rights to felons.
The case went from the Federal District Court to the Federal Appellate court (11th Circuit) who found that the law as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court was unconstitutional. The Appellate court found that the lower state courts were applying fines as polling taxes.
The State of Florida has adopted a system under which nearly a million otherwise-eligible citizens will only be allowed to vote if they pay an amount of money. Most of the citizens lack the financial resources to make the required payment. Most do not know, and some will not be able to find out, how much they must pay. For most, the required payment will consist only of charges the State imposed to fund government operations—taxes in substance though not in name. This is essentially a poll tax that will prevent many people, who are otherwise eligible to vote, from voting until Florida fixes its records. The district court judge estimated that based on the record before him, that it will take until 2026 to clear up the mess in Florida’s voting records. This will impact not only the upcoming Presidential Election, but the one the follows it. This is Unacceptable! The decision by the Federal district court is 125 pages and was issued on May 24 by Judge Robert L. Hinkle. The judge said the law is a violation of the 24th Amendment, which says the right to vote shall not be denied “by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.”
In order to slow up the process of granting voting rights to non-violent felons, the governor said that he is appealing the decision. Most likely, he will also take any other means to slow up the appeals so that more than 1 million individuals will not be able to vote.
Irwin R. Eisenstein, M.B.A., J.D., Camila Risso, J.D
——————— The case is available at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6923612-6502754-0-7448.html
Ron Desantis will first ask the entire federal circuit court to rule on the issues and then most likely will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.