A New Poll Tax Will Suppress Florida’s Voting Reform
EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
One of the most inspiring victories of the 2018 elections was in Florida, where voters approved a constitutional amendment that reenfranchised an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In a state where gubernatorial and Senate races were decided by fractions of a percentage point, a transpartisan coalition propelled Amendment 4 to a landslide victory with 65 percent of the vote. It was an unexpectedly decisive outcome that showed how some issues really do cross partisan politics—and a powerful example of democracy working as it should.
This month, the Florida legislature passed along partisan lines a bill that requires former felons to clear new financial hurdles before they become eligible to vote. Amendment 4 plainly stated that most people with felony convictions would regain their rights upon completing “all terms of their sentence including parole or probation,” but under the Republican legislation, they will also be obligated to pay related fines, fees and restitution. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who campaigned against Amendment 4 last year, plans to sign the bill in the coming days.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.