Three federal judges hearing a legal challenge to a Florida measure allowing felons to vote asked tough questions of the attorney for Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, repeatedly asking about the fairness of a subsequent bill that levied what critics called a “poll tax.”
The questioning by the judges for the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Atlanta went to the heart of the battle over Amendment 4, which voters passed in 2018. The justices appeared critical of the requirement passed by the Legislature last year that felons pay back all court fees, fines and restitution to victims before being allowed to vote.
The tacked-on legislative requirement will likely prevent hundreds of thousands of felons from voting because they can’t afford to immediately pay back what is often $500 or more in fees….
Judge Lanier Anderson noted that under Patterson’s and the bill’s interpretation of Amendment 4, two felons could receive the exact same punishment for the exact same crime, yet one might vote before the other if he or she has more money.
“It’s precisely the same situation, except for punishment on the basis of poverty,” Anderson said.
“In one case, justice has been done,” Patterson responded. “In the other case, it has not.”