The question has stumped people for years, but voting rights advocates are more likely than ever before to come out in support of allowing convicted felons the right to vote. The topic is especially contentious because of the upcoming 2020 election. Democrats are arguing over everything they can to separate themselves from potential rivals. It recently came out that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was against granting the right for felons to vote because they weren’t going to anyway!
A recent legal battle in Florida State may have determined whether or not our own convicted felons have the right to vote in Palm Beach. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta decided to uphold a lower court ruling that said ex-felons should have the right to vote — even when they don’t have the money to pay owed court fines.
After all, why should a United States citizen be denied the right to vote just because they’re poor? That was the essence of the Republican argument put forth by the Florida Legislature.
The ruling stated, “These plaintiffs are punished more harshly than those who committed precisely the same crime — by having their right to vote taken from them likely for their entire lives. And this punishment is linked not to their culpability, but rather to the exogenous fact of their wealth.”
This especially important in an election year that could decide whether or not the country will continue to be ruled by the radical right-wing or a new government composed of the radical left-wing.
Governor DeSantis did not agree with the new ruling. Spokesperson Helen Aguirre Ferre acknowledged that DeSantis plans to seek a full review of the ruling in court.
The ruling was the result of a previously issued preliminary injunction made by United States District Judge Robert Hinkle. The injunction was only relevant to 17 former felons who challenged these voting restrictions in civil court. The lawsuit was built in part by civil rights groups. The trial will move forward in April now that the injunction was upheld by the 11th Circuit.
Director Myrna Perez of the Voting Rights and Elections program for the Brennan Center for Justice said, “This is a great win for voting rights. The 11th circuit told the state of Florida what the rest of America already knows. You can’t condition the right to vote on a person’s wealth.”
President Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition said, “There’s many more steps in this journey, there’s many more levels that have to be reached before we can claim some sort of victory.”