Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Florida voters in November overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. (Photo: Public Citizen/Twitter)

'A Poll Tax By Any Other Name': Florida GOP Undermines Newly-Restored Voting Rights For 1.4 Million People

"The Constitution can't operate as the supreme law of our nation if it's consistently subverted."

Julia Conley

Civil rights advocates Tuesday slammed Republicans in Florida for passing a bill that would severely undermine a law approved by voters last year that restored voting rights to residents with felony convictions.

Four months ago, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in a state referendum to allow many of the state's former felons to vote. But on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed CRJ 3 in a party-line vote.

While the passage of Amendment 4 was celebrated by voting rights advocates nationwide, the new GOP measure would undermine the hard won victory by requiring former felons to pay all court fees in order to have their right to vote granted.

Critics including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Public Citizen denounced CRJ 3 as a poll tax.

More than 64 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4 in November, restoring voting rights to about 1.4 million former felons. Convicted murderers and felony sex offenders are excluded under the amendment, and felons must complete all terms of their sentence including parole and probation to be permitted to vote.

The ACLU of Florida said Tuesday that by forcing Floridians with felony convictions to pay courts as well, CRJ 3 "would effectively disenfranchise two categories of returning citizens for life: those with very small financial obligations that they will never be able to pay due to poverty and those with financial obligations for non-violent property crimes."

The group's political director, Kirk Bailey, called the bill "an affront to Florida voters" which "will inevitably prevent individuals from voting based on the size of one's bank account."

"If this bill passes, it will undoubtedly continue to disenfranchise those who have already served their time and paid their debt to society," Bailey said in a statement. "This is exactly what we were worried about from the beginning – legislative attempts to undermine the will of the people who voted for second chances and to rid Florida of the last vestiges of its Jim Crow era past."

"The House bill raises serious constitutional concerns," he added. "We urge lawmakers to uphold the will of Florida voters and withdraw this deficient bill."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Progressive Delia Ramirez Defeats Billionaire PAC Money to Win Illinois Primary

"Billionaires and their super PACs are spending millions to defeat progressive candidates," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Ramirez. "They have the money, but we've got the people."

Jake Johnson ·


'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo