On July 1, 2020, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the federal District Court decision that set up clear guidelines for Returning Citizens to be able to register and to vote.
In 2018, Florida citizens approved Amendment Four, allowing felons who completed their sentences (“Returning Citizens”) restoration of their right to vote. The Florida Legislature then passed SB 7066, putting additional requirements on Returning Citizens before they could register and be able to vote.
The earlier District Court decision, issued by Judge Robert L. Hinkle, on Sunday, May 24, 2020, would have allowed up to three-quarters of a million Floridians to be newly eligible to vote. The court found the fee and cost requirement of SB7066 to be in violation of the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits poll and similar taxes, deeming it an unconstitutional “pay-to-vote system.” The district court went on to set out easy to follow guidelines for determining whether a Returning Citizen could vote.
Supervisors of Elections across the state, regardless of political party, heralded the District Court’s decision as a long-needed clarification of the law. However, Governor DeSantis, and the Republicans in the Florida Legislature, were not ready to allow so many former felons to vote, especially this year, when President Trump lacks a path to reelection victory without winning Florida.
The 11th Circuit stay, just issued, stops the District Court’s decision from being fully applied. And the 11th Circuit will not hear the appeal of the case (on the merits) until after the last possible registration date for the upcoming August primary election.
What has never been in dispute, and is still true, is that Returning Citizens who have completed their sentences, and have no financial obligations, can register to vote.
Oh, were the Republicans only as diligent in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as they are at stopping the spread of voting.
Please put out the word, and stay tuned.