The Florida Legislature’s bill cracking down on Amendment 4 has created a mess, with felons uncertain whether they can vote, clerks of court unable to confirm whether felons are eligible to vote and election supervisors using voter registration forms that are different from those used by the secretary of state.
That’s the conclusion after the first day of arguments in a federal hearing challenging a bill adopted by the Legislature this year curtailing Amendment 4, which was supposed to restore the right to vote to more than a million felons.
The bill required felons to pay back all court fines, fees and restitution before being eligible to vote, conditions that critics have called a “poll tax.”
Various groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the bill. They’re asking U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to temporarily stop the bill until the case can be resolved. Closing arguments are expected in court in Tallahassee Tuesday, with a ruling expected later.
Hinkle gave little indication on Monday how he’d rule on the ACLU’s request. But he expressed deep skepticism about one change lawmakers made: to the state’s voter registration form.
The change was one of several that lawmakers made this year to Amendment 4, the historic legislation that restored the right to vote to nearly all felons who completed “all terms of sentence.”