In 2018 the Florida electorate approved Amendment 4 to the Florida constitution, restoring voting rights to citizens with felony criminal records. A few months later, the Republican-led Florida Senate drew up a payments bill, requiring those citizens to settle all financial obligations before they could register to vote. Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law in June 2019, and shortly thereafter a coalition of Floridians and voting rights organizations sued Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, arguing that a law that requires payment of all legal fines, fees and restitution before a citizen can register to vote amounts to an illegal poll tax. That case has gone to trial today, Monday April 27, 2020, in the Northern Districtsof Florida.
The case sits squarely at the intersection of the civil rights movement for formerly incarcerated people, the criminal justice reform movement, and the acrimonious partisan battle over voter suppression issues. Because of COVID-19 and the resulting shutdown of court systems, the trial is being held in a virtual digital courtroom, and as a result anyone can listen in on the live audio feed:
Call-in (571) 353-2300
Access code 034872985