The high court’s decision could have a significant impact on the state’s August primary as well as the November general election in a critical swing state, Politico reports.
What We Know:
- In 2018, Floridians voted to approve a ballot measure that would restore voting rights to felons, reversing the lifetime ban set in place previously. Soon after, the Republican-led state Legislature passed a law that requires people with felony convictions to pay court debts and fees before they can register to vote, seriously impeding their ability to legally head to the polls.
- U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle scratched the law in May, describing it as a masked form of a pay-to-vote system that violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on poll taxes. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that put the ruling on hold. The Supreme Court was then asked by voting rights groups to make a decision.
- The Court upheld the law Thursday with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (all appointed by Democratic presidents) dissenting. Justice Sotomayor wrote that the ruling “prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor. And it allows the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to disrupt Florida’s election process just days before the July 20 voter-registration deadline for the August primary, even though a preliminary injunction had been in place for nearly a year and a federal district court had found the State’s pay-to-vote scheme un-constitutional after an 8-day trial.”
- A University of Florida study determined that 775,000 former felons have outstanding debts and fees to be paid before they can register to vote.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes during an election year filled with close races, none closer or more important than the race for the White House. As President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden push closer to November, the Court’s decision in the Florida swing-state could be critical to who picks up its 29 electoral college votes.