DeSantis to appeal ruling allowing ex-felons to vote

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BY GRAY ROHRER
ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would appeal a federal judge’s decision to strike down a Florida law requiring felons to pay fines and fees associated with their sentences before getting back their right to vote.

“It’ll go to the 11th Circuit, and we’ll see what happens there,” DeSantis told reporters in Miami, referring to the Atlanta￾based appellate court.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a ruling on May 24 that said Florida’s law approved in 2019 to install Amendment 4 was unconstitutional because it required felons to pay restitution, fines and fees before being able to vote. Florida voters approved the amendment in 2018 with more than 64% of the vote.

Hinkle called the law a “pay-to-vote system” and noted the difficulty in finding out how much a felon might owe.

The ruling calls on state elections officials to determine the amount owed and allow felons to seek an advisory opinion for the full amount. If there’s no response in three weeks, they should be allowed to vote, the ruling states.

The lawsuit brought by 17 ex-felons was argued by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and backed by other liberal and voting rights groups.

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