Amendment 4

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

Cheers erupted in a Miami-Dade County courtroom on Friday, as more than a dozen people with felony convictions had their right to vote restored by a judge.

The mass court hearing was part of a brand new process created by the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, along with Miami-Dade’s offices of the State Attorney, the Public Defender, and the Clerk of Courts.

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments for a nationally watched question about how the state’s 2018 ballot item Amendment 4, relating to the restoration of voting rights for people convicted of felonies, is being implemented.

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

On Monday, a major hearing is set to take place in Tallahassee that will set the tone of a challenge to a Florida law that opponents have called a “poll tax.”

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

Newly filed court records are shedding light on the closely watched federal court case relating to voting rights for people with felony convictions. Several groups filed lawsuits against state and local officials after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law tying the right to vote to paying all the fines and fees related to a felony conviction.

Judge Raises New Question In Felons Voting Fight

Aug 15, 2019

A federal judge added a new twist Thursday in the legal battle over whether convicted felons who’ve served their time behind bars should be required to pay court-ordered financial obligations before voting rights are restored.

Plaintiffs in the case are challenging a state law that carries out a constitutional amendment granting voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.” The amendment, approved by voters in November, excluded people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.”

The American Civil Liberties Union in Jacksonville Thursday led a discussion on its priorities heading into the next Florida legislative session, which are:  criminal justice, immigrant rights and voting rights. 

C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office -- the largest prosecutor’s office in the state of Florida -- is moving forward with a plan that would soften the financial blow of state law SB 7066 that ties the restoration of voting rights to someone’s ability to pay fines, fees and restitution for a felony offense.

Thousands of felons throughout the state are now eligible to vote, thanks to Amendment 4 and Governor Ron DeSantis signing the implementing bill into law. However, to do so they will have to register first, and organizations and advocates have been fanning out across Florida to sign up these newly eligible voters. Joining those efforts is former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff.

A war of words has broken out over the Amendment 4 bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which requires former felons to pay off all fines and fees included as part of their sentence before their right to vote is restored.

Democrats and other bill opponents have said the requirement is “poll tax” and have launched federal lawsuits against it, while Republicans and bill supporters say fines and restitution was always considered part of a sentence.

Courtesy of Julie Peyton

More than 100 new laws go into effect this week in Florida, including the right to restore voting rights to felons and the banning of sanctuary cities. Sundial spoke with WLRN reporters Nadege Green and Tim Padgett to review some of the critical laws being enacted in Florida.

 

 

broward elections
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Leaders from civil and voters' rights groups in Florida testified before members of Congress Monday in Fort Lauderdale about the barriers that minority groups face when voting in the state. 

The Subcommittee on Elections of the U.S. House held the hearing inside the Broward County Commission chambers to evaluate whether claims of voter suppression need federal action. 

 

Controversial Felons' Rights Bill Goes To DeSantis

May 3, 2019

With two men who’ve become the faces of Amendment 4 watching from the gallery, Florida lawmakers passed a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored.

The Republican-dominated House passed the bill in a party-line vote Friday, the last full day of the 2019 legislative session. That came after the Senate approved the plan in a party-line vote Thursday night.

Controversial Felons' Rights Plan Clears Senate

May 3, 2019
LESLIE OVALLE / WLRN NEWS

Seeking to carry out a November constitutional amendment, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored, an issue that’s been a sticking point as lawmakers grappled with one of this year’s most controversial pieces of legislation.

The Senate spent about two hours in emotional debate on the measure before voting strictly along party lines and sending the proposal to the House for consideration Friday, the final day it can pass before the legislative session ends.

vote here sign
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

A bill that is advancing in the Florida Senate could provide relief for a large chunk of people with felony convictions who want to regain the right to vote following  the passage of Amendment 4 last November.

When amendments are made to the constitution sometimes they need legislation to be passed that would implement the change. Well this year lawmakers are doing that with 2018’s Amendment 4 which allows certain felons the right to vote after completing their sentence. There’s debate over whether implementing legislation is needed and WFSU’s Blaise Gainey reports both sides clashed during Thursday’s bill hearing.

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