*Update (3/31/20): the Eleventh Circuit has denied Florida’s petition for rehearing en banc.
A decision yesterday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit is a major victory for voting rights and criminal justice reform advocates. It has the potential to dramatically expand access to the ballot for people with felony convictions in Florida. The decision concerns Florida’s 2018 ballot initiative Amendment 4, which restored the vote to state residents who have completed the terms of their sentence, which includes fines, fees, and restitution imposed by the court. The appeals court’s decision held that Florida may not deny the vote to individuals who can demonstrate that they are genuinely unable to pay outstanding court debt. The decision also called into question the very requirement that financial penalties must be satisfied in order to regain the vote under Amendment 4, and potentially similar requirements in several other states.