In less than a year, Americans will cast their votes for the next President of the United States. Experts believe that the 2020 Presidential Elections could witness one of the biggest turnouts for voting in American history. Many of the people who opted not to vote in the last election now want to make sure their voices are heard. Also, some people who could not vote in prior elections due to incarceration had their rights restored in Florida and other states.
According to the LA Times, Florida residents recently voted for some ex-felons to get their voting rights restored. However, the government quickly moved in to limit this. The biggest limitation right now is that formerly incarcerated people must repay all their court fees before being allowed to vote. The minimum is just shy of $700 but is often much higher than this.
Many people also believe that the ruling unfairly targets African Americans. Some compare it to the poll tax that helped to bar Black people from voting in the segregation era. More than four in 10 Floridians released from prison are of African descent. This resulted in nearly 10% of the African American population in Florida having no voting rights until the recent ruling.
CNN notes that for these and other reasons, many people who cannot afford the fees but wish to vote are suing the state. The American Civil Liberties Union, several other organizations and affected civilians banded together to file the suit. It claims that the new regulations added to Amendment 4 unfairly target lower-income families and racial minorities.
It is reportedly possible for some convicts to do community service to pay off the debt. However, for lower-income families already struggling to make ends meet, finding time for unpaid work may be easier said than done. The other option is for the court or a victim to forgive restitution.