For Immediate Release
August 18, 2020
Julian Brookes, Brennan Center for Justice, 646–292–8381, email@example.com
Casey Bruce-White, ACLU of Florida, 786–363–2717, firstname.lastname@example.org
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 347–514–3984, email@example.com
Phoebe Plagens, NAACP LDF, 212–965–2235, firstname.lastname@example.org
ATLANTA — A federal appeals court hearing in a case that could enable hundreds of thousands of Floridians to register to vote in time for the November election concluded today after two hours of oral argument.
The case concerns Senate Bill 7066 (SB7066), which was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019. This law made voting rights for hundreds of thousands of people with past felony convictions contingent on payment of all legal financial obligations. It directly undermines Florida voters’ overwhelming passage of the Voting Restoration Amendment 4 in 2018, had restored voting rights to over a million people with past felony convictions.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued immediately after the governor signed the legislation. In May 2020, a district court struck down the law, but the ruling has been put on hold pending an appeal by the governor.
The appeal was heard by the full Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. If the appeals court affirms the district court’s ruling, it may enable hundreds of thousands of Floridians to register to vote in time for the November election.
The following comments are from:
Sean Morales-Doyle, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law: “By putting a price tag on voting, Florida’s law violates the constitution and cheapens our democracy. We are hopeful the Eleventh Circuit will strike down this law, enabling hundreds of thousands of Floridians with past convictions to exercise their fundamental right to vote this November and beyond.”
Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “The courts have repeatedly ruled that Florida’s modern-day poll tax is unconstitutional. People from all across the political spectrum recognize it is wrong to force Americans to pay to vote. We are hopeful the appeals court will affirm the trial court’s decision and strike down this law once and for all.”
Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida legal director: “We have proudly fought for our clients against Florida’s unconstitutional attempt to affix a price on a person’s right to vote. It is a fight we will continue to fight until all returning citizens in Florida who regained their right to vote through Amendment 4 are able to participate in our democracy.”
Leah C. Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “Florida’s pay-to-vote law unjustly denies hundreds of thousands of people their right to vote, and is especially harmful to Black Floridians, who are already otherwise disproportionately impacted by voter suppression tactics. The fact that Florida has the gall to attempt to enforce a pay-to-vote system when it knew that it has no credible record-keeping system in place for returning citizens or state officials to track their LFOs is completely unacceptable. Under no circumstance should the state be allowed to enforce a law that does not allow people to receive notice of what they owe upfront — and to determine whether they can register, remain on the voter polls, and vote. This law is unconstitutional – and the trial court’s decisions must stand.”
Case background here.
Read this press release online here.