Washington, D.C. — Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed S.B. 7066, requiring American citizens with prior felony convictions to pay steep fines and fees in order to vote. The new law could disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters. In response, Connor Maxwell, policy analyst for Race and Ethnicity Policy, issued the following statement:
Undoing the will of the voters in order to preserve the legacy of Jim Crow is not only morally repugnant but a clear violation of lawmakers’ oath to support, protect, and defend the Constitution. Instead of authorizing racist and unconstitutional disenfranchisement laws, lawmakers should be making it easier for returning citizens to vote and successfully transition back into society.
When Florida voters passed Amendment 4 last November, they sent a clear message that voting is a fundamental right and citizens who have completed their sentences should be able to fully participate in civic life. Amendment 4 restored the vote to as many as 1.4 million Americans with prior felony convictions, many of whom are black. Prior to the passage of Amendment 4, 1 in 5 black Floridians were denied the right to vote because of their record. By restoring the vote, Floridians took an important step toward improving reentry and reducing recidivism. Now, with the passage of S.B. 7066 conservative lawmakers have enacted a 21st century poll tax to prevent many of these citizens from casting their ballots on Election Day.
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj or 202-495-3682.