Amendment 4—a Florida referendum restoring voting rights to former felons—passed in 2018 with 65% of the vote, paving the way for an additional 1.4 million voters in the swing state.
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis immediately took steps to undermine the public will by signing into law a bill that would only restore voting rights to felons who fully pay all fees and fines imposed after leaving prison.
Under Florida law, court debts left unpaid after three months are referred to private debt collectors, who can then tack on a surcharge of up to 40%.
Florida's Supreme Court recently sided with DeSantis, who took to Twitter to praise the verdict.
Astonishingly, DeSantis asserted that voting is a "privilege."
I am pleased that @FLCourts confirms that Amendment 4 requires fines, fees & restitution be paid to victims before… https://t.co/CxkqvAMTHX— Ron DeSantis (@Ron DeSantis) 1579197308.0
That didn't sit well with former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who quickly collected him.
Voting isn't a privilege. It's a right. And requiring voters to pay off fines and fees to exercise that right is a… https://t.co/OIrh6eDoR8— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton) 1579287002.0
Clinton stressed that voting is not a privilege, but a right on which the United States was founded. Any law requiring that people pay money to vote can be equated to a poll tax, which are unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment.
The amendment reads:
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax."
Others agreed that the law—and DeSantis's assertion that voting is a privilege—were B.S.
What a disgrace. Enough with the racist and unconstitutional efforts to deny people their right to vote. If you are… https://t.co/4ij2mXf5d6— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1579229285.0
Voting is a right. https://t.co/Ch2ZCfLqXz— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330)) 1579213803.0
Maybe take a peek at the Constitution. Of the 17 Amendments added since 1789 - 4 of them - almost 25%, were writte… https://t.co/SM1cPPQDK9— Mark Judson For Congress (@Mark Judson For Congress) 1579292419.0
Poll taxes in the US were introduced in the 1890s to prevent African Americans from voting. History repeats unles… https://t.co/nNx9hnxv0J— Jess Phoenix 🌋 (@Jess Phoenix 🌋) 1579294540.0
A privilege? Governor, voting is a right that has been hard earned over the course of generations. The people of Fl… https://t.co/VzQeNniZi8— Tom Perez (@Tom Perez) 1579280166.0
Others recalled DeSantis's own narrow win over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
Your hand-picked Supreme Court confirmed your anti-democratic poll tax! Voter suppression at its worst. We must fi… https://t.co/2GnkPQ3svj— Andrew Gillum (@Andrew Gillum) 1579201570.0
Your reminder that Ron DeSantis beat @AndrewGillum by less than a percentage point in an election where more than 2… https://t.co/nghZdg4xPj— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich) 1579292658.0
Ron DeSantis narrowly won in 2018 in an election in which more than 20% of black citizens were not allowed to vote.… https://t.co/32OHbrUWTU— Taniel (@Taniel) 1579214617.0
For some reason, a guy who won a campaign based on racist dog-whistles by less than 1% is for a poll tax that dispr… https://t.co/ByFqHkHbqa— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) 1579213330.0
The praise was high for Hillary Clinton.
Exactly this 👇👇👇 https://t.co/JqfkBtsCV2— Cass Pursell (@Cass Pursell) 1579291853.0
You tell em Hillary.. https://t.co/l8RxBBtA4n— Susan Haag (@Susan Haag) 1579294273.0
I'm still with her... https://t.co/Y3KUXjpGN0— Kate Ngai (@Kate Ngai) 1579292974.0
You can help felons who have served their time become eligible to vote by donating here.