Of course there is going to be voter suppression. The Republican know they can’t win with a fair vote so they are doing everything they can to disenfranchise the people who might vote against them. For example-in Florida the voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the constitution to allow ex-felons to vote-no exceptions. But then the Republican led house and senate and sign by Gov DeSantASS (tRump’s favorite butt kisser) passed a law that said unless all back legal fees and restitution was paid, the ex-felons couldn’t vote.
Sounds like a poll tax to me.
I wouldn’t call it a poll tax because the felon having to pay fines and restitution is not for the purpose of voting, it’s towards the satisfaction of the terms of their specific sentence. Not all sentences include a financial component.
Amendment 4 grants the following:
“For any other [this doesn’t apply to violent/sexual offenders] felony conviction in Florida, a person is eligible to register and vote if the person has completed all terms of his or her sentence. Completion of the sentence means:
Prison or jail time;
Parole, probation, or other forms of supervision; and
Payment of the total amount of all fines, fees, costs, and restitution ordered as part of the felony sentence.”
Restitution and fines are a very important part of sentences. Just as one example, several years back there were quite a number of people bypassing their electric meters to run large scale grow houses in FL, each stealing tens of thousands of dollars of power. So the judge’s sentence would be something like (in form, not figures):
I hereby sentence you to 18 months imprisonment (because of illegally growing 420) followed by one year probation, $17,500 restitution to power company, $100 fine (required by statute for the specific drug crime) and $400 in court costs.
If this person gets out after 18 months, and has not paid back the stolen power, they haven’t yet truly complied with all of the terms of their sentence. The same goes for the court costs or the fine.
It’s important to note that interest, collection or legal fees that are added above the court’s sentence will not restrict the defendant from restoring his/her rights. They look at it as “first dollar” applied. So, say there was no restitution required and no fine, just the $400, but it went to collections and over the years has now ballooned up to $750… the person can pay $400 towards the balance (fulfilling the amount of the judge’s order) and have their voting rights restored despite still owing more.
Also, in FL, anyone who has restitution or fines to pay, can claim indigence and request that said amounts be lowered, waived or converted to community service.
An issue that has come to light is that there is no central database where what each defendant owes can be easily accessed by inquiring minds. Obviously, every case has its specific judge’s sentencing order on file at the clerk’s office, but currently, it’s up to each person to comply with the judge’s order for his/her case and present that order and proof of satisfaction to the Division of Elections who will then issue the person an opinion demonstrating that the person is now eligible to vote. A centralized database would help others with statistics and reporting, but it would not really change any of the steps that the defendant would have to go through to be able to vote.
By the way, I totally voted for the amendment (understanding it would be upon the person completing all terms of their sentence).
@jester747 I voted to it also, but don’t you agree that the Republicans brought this up just to limit people voting who they thought might not vote for them. If this were understood as a part of the amendment, why did they have to pass an additional law to clarify it. I don’t think most people would have liked it if they knew that financial restitution was still a bar to voting. It is just another one of the Republican’s sleazy attempts to win the election by any way possible.
@Felton10@jester747 A big part of the issue is people can’t even find out what they need to pay. It’s kind of being taken by default that defendants owe something, and they have to prove that they have paid it, but it may take months to even find out what they owe. Part of it may be on file at some specific clerk’s office, or another clerk’s office, or a collection agency, etc.
@Felton10@kevinrs To restore their voting rights after serving any detention and/or probation, defendants need only meet the rest of the terms of the judge’s sentencing order, if any. If they or their attorney no longer have it, a copy of the order is easily available at the clerk of the same court where they were sentenced. Again, increases due to collection fees amd interest are not required to be paid prior to restoring the voting rights with the Division of Elections.