On June 28, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill requiring returning citizens in Florida to pay all court fines, fees and restitutions before their right to vote is restored. Known as SB 7066, this legislation is now facing four separate lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.
Of the four lawsuits, three have been consolidated to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker. The lawsuits have been brought by a coalition of civil rights groups that includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Florida, lawyers representing Kevin Jones, who cannot afford to pay the $50,000 in fines and fees that he owes, and the Campaign Legal Center. The fourth lawsuit comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
While the lawsuits’ content differs, they all make the same basic claim, according to Vox, that SB 7066 “will disenfranchise poor people and people of color with felony records, denying them the rights restored by the ballot amendment.”
“Our research shows that the people who have registered to vote under Amendment 4 are disproportionately black and low-income,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, said. . . . “There can be no mistaking the racial and class implications of this regressive new legislation.”