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The Florida Supreme Court has sided with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis by the decision that some convicted criminals should be required to pay off all fines or fees before you back your right to vote.
The court issued an opinion Thursday affirming the language of DeSantis in response to Amendment 4, an amendment to the state Constitution in the year 2018 to restore the voting rights to nearly 1.4 million ex-felons. Before the amendment, voting rights had been revoked convicted anyone of a crime in Florida.
The Governor wanted the added clarification by the court on a certain language, the law said, which is that the rights would be restored “after completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.”
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Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses reporters at Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale in an undated photo. (Associated Press)
“The Governor asks whether the sentence ‘all of the conditions of the sentence’ includes legal, financial obligations (LFOs)—fines, reparation, costs, and fees ordered by the trial court,” the opinion said.
The court responded: “We answer in the affirmative, concluding that “all terms of the sentence’ only includes durational periods, but also all LFOs to him in connection with the assessment of fault.”
DeSantis said Thursday that he was “satisfied” with the decision of the court.
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“I am pleased that @FLCourts confirms that Amendment 4 requires to be paid in fines, fees & refund, to the victims before their voting rights are restored,” he wrote on Twitter. “The vote is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, and I am bound to implement faithfully, Amendment 4, as it is.”
Kathy Rundle, state attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, said she was “terribly disappointed” in the ruling, argue that it was a barrier for what they are voted “the majority of Floridians, that in the year 2018.”
“We need to work on a responsible and accessible way in the future, on the restoration of the rights, not that it will be harder,” she wrote.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has long advocated for the restoration of voting rights for felons who have met and completed their detention.
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“In my state, what we do is separate. You pay a price, you committed a crime, you’re in prison. This is bad,” said Sanders. “But you’re still living in the American society and you have a right to vote. I think that, Yes, I do.”