Fight Voter Suppression in Florida

  • Week of September 14, 2020

On November 3rd, all-of-us must kick Trump where the sun don’t shine. Since the sunshine state is one path to victory, we’re focusing on Florida yet again this week (see last week’s actions if you missed them)! But the news that we are about to share isn’t sunny at all. This week, on September 11th, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal issued a tragic ruling which will require former felons who have served their sentences to also pay fines and fees before they can vote.

Listen up, because this matters. In 2016, Trump won Florida by only 112,911 votes. The razor thin margins go back further than that. In 2012, Florida was the only state decided by less than 1%, with Barack Obama carrying it over Romney by 50.0% to 49.1%. 2016 was almost as close, with Donald Trump edging Hillary Clinton by 1.2% or only 112,911 votes. 

Today, Florida is a virtual tie and the 11th Circuit’s decision will prevent at least 774, 000 of those formerly incarcerated from voting. Here’s how we got here:

  • In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment (Amendment 4) that would restore voting rights to people who had served their sentences for certain felony convictions.

  • The legislature usurped the will of the people by passing a law to add a requirement that, in addition to serving their sentences, former felons must pay all fines and fees before being able to vote. 

  • On May 24, 2020, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled against that financial barrier, finding that it operated as an unconstitutional poll tax. 

  • On September 11, 2020, the 11th Circuit reversed that decision and reversed the progress on voting rights.

  • Many former felons can’t afford the mounting fees, especially in Trump’s economic crisis which disproportionately affects black and brown people, precisely the same people who are also hurt by our racist criminal “justice” system.

So what can we do now? The 11th Circuit’s decision was a low blow no doubt, but we need to keep fighting in Florida, blow by blow. All-of-us must support the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), which built the movement to pass Amendment 4, and is “encouraging people to step up and defend democracy by supporting our efforts to pay the fines and fees of Florida’s returning citizens.” Let’s flip Florida blue (and flip off those who advance voter suppression)! 

Here’s how:

1 Check out and support the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

2 Help returning citizens pay their fines and fees here

3 Follow @FLRighsRstore

4 Share this video about FRRC