Letters to the Editor

Florida Legislature is trying to impose ‘poll tax’ on former felons | Letter to the Editor

Ex-felons celebrate Amendment 4, which restores their voting rights

Hundreds of former felons celebrated Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to more than 1.2 million Floridians, on the steps of the state Capitol on March 11, 2019.
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Hundreds of former felons celebrated Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to more than 1.2 million Floridians, on the steps of the state Capitol on March 11, 2019.

As expected, the legislature in Florida seems to feel it needs to get involved with the implementation of Amendment 4, even though it was written to be self-implementing. That means there is NO need for any bills or rules. But apparently this is not stopping the folks in Tallahassee. Unfortunately, what they are attempting to do flies in the face of what the voters of Florida approved. It reminds me of the legislative opposition to the smoking of medical marijuana (which has been overturned after being found unconstitutional). I hope we don’t have to go through a similar court battle for this amendment, but I fear we will.

What the legislature is attempting to do effectively imposes a poll tax. The way Amendment 4 was written and passed, a person convicted of a felony must complete all parts of their sentence from the judge which would include incarceration, probation or parole, and all restitution ordered. Now the legislature wants to add court costs and fees (which, by the way, are NOT part of the sentence). These can add up to hundreds of dollars and be difficult for poor returning citizens to afford. The Voting Rights Act and the 24th Amendment both prohibit the use of poll taxes or putting up any undue barriers to the voting rights of the poor and minorities.

We need to stand up to the lawmakers in Tallahassee and let them know that Florida voters approved the amendment as written and it needs to be implemented as passed.

Jenni Casale

Palmetto

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