In the past, a felony conviction would prevent someone from being able to vote in Florida, but this is no longer automatically the case. Now, residents may be able to legally vote following a felony conviction, but they first have to meet certain requirements.
According to ABC News, many states in recent years have made strides to reduce “disenfranchisement,” or stripping people with felony convictions of the right to vote, and Florida is among them. However, many Florida residents with felonies on their records are finding that they still face uphill battles before they may cast a vote in an upcoming election.
Senate Bill 7066
Senate Bill 7066, which passed last year in Florida, dictates that the state may not re-enfranchise people with felony convictions until they complete specific terms of service that follow their convictions. More specifically, the new ruling made it so they must either pay all fees and fines associated with their convictions in full or have their sentences undergo modification before they may regain the privilege to vote.
Currently, the state of Florida has about 1.4 million former felony offenders, about 80% of whom still owe at least $500 in fines or fees relating to their convictions.
A brief history of the changes
A ruling in November of 2018 gave most Florida residents with felony records the right to vote, and it became a state law in March of 2019. Then, in October of 2019, a federal court overturned the law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to require former felony offenders to pay all amounts owed before being able to vote. In early 2020, the Florida Supreme Court voted to uphold the bill before an appeals court, and then voted to uphold the injunction that halted it.
The considerable changes to Florida’s rules regarding felony convictions and voting in recent years may seem confusing. The situation is likely to continue to evolve as legislators and courts review the changes and uphold or amend them.