Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed into law on Friday significant restrictions to the recently restored voting rights of people with felony convictions, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the state hours later.
The new law requires people with serious criminal histories to fully pay back fines and fees to the courts before they become eligible to vote. In some cases, those costs amount to thousands of dollars.
The A.C.L.U. argued that the new limits would unconstitutionally price some people out of the ballot box and undermine the intent of Florida voters, who last November approved a measure to enfranchise up to 1.5 million former felons.
“There’s no rational basis for treating somebody who can afford to pay fees any differently than treating anybody who can’t afford to pay them,” said Julie Ebenstein, a senior staff attorney with the A.C.L.U.’s Voting Rights Project. “That’s just distinguishing people’s right to vote based on their wealth.”…
Still, the timing of the governor’s action, announced after 6 p.m. on a Friday, seemed intended to draw little attention from Florida voters, more of whom voted for Amendment 4 than for him. Not long afterward, the A.C.L.U. filed its lawsuit in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida, joined by the A.C.L.U. of Florida, the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.