A federal judge has gutted a Florida state law requiring felons to pay all court fines and fees before they can register to vote, clearing the way for thousands of Floridians to register in time for the November presidential election.
Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) pushed the measure after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 to expand voting rights to felons who have completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.”
The law’s backers said it was necessary to clarify the amendment, while critics said Republicans were trying to limit the effects of what would have been the largest expansion of the state’s electorate since poll taxes and literacy tests were outlawed during the civil rights era.
The law, critics said, had made it virtually impossible for most felons to register, either because of an inability to pay or because the state offered no way for them to know what they owed or whether they had already paid.