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Federal Judge Rules Returning Citizens Have The Right to Vote, Regardless of Outstanding Fines and Fees

On October 18, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida cannot prevent returning citizens from voting because they cannot afford to pay court-ordered fines and fees. While the ruling technically applies to the 17 people named in the lawsuit, it is expected to be applied more broadly to other returning citizens in the state.

Since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the law limiting returning citizens right to vote, Art for Justice Fund grantee partner Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has been collecting donations to help pay outstanding fines and fees. It has raised nearly $1 million and is planning to undergo a statewide bus tour in November to offer returning citizens help in figuring out how to take care of their fines.

“This is a step forward,” Neil Volz, policy director of the FRRC, said about Hinkle’s decision. “We’re going to keep moving forward and registering people to vote.”

FRRC received the Promoting Reentry grant as part of the Art for Justice Fund’s Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 cohorts.

Learn more about the ruling and its impact from The Washington Post.