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Upcoming Hearing Next Step in Determining the Future of Amendment 4

Activists share information about the Amendment 4 ballot initiative on Oct. 22, 2018.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
AP Photo
Activists share information about the Amendment 4 ballot initiative on Oct. 22, 2018.

Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in 2018 with nearly 65% support. The amendment to Florida’s Constitution restored voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they’ve completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. It does not apply to Floridians convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

While sponsors of the amendment intended it to be self-implementing, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said that Amendment 4 would require the Florida State Legislature to pass implementing legislation before it could take effect. That led to lawmakers passing Senate Bill 7066 in 2019, which requires convicted felons to complete "all terms of sentence" including full payment of restitution, or any fines, fees, or costs resulting from the conviction, before regaining the right to vote. Lawsuits were filed against the legislation, with plaintiffs arguing that requiring payment of fines and fees before being able to vote was unconstitutional.

Next Tuesday, August 18 a hearing at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be the next step in the process of determining the constitutionality of Senate Bill 7066. We're going over the Amendment 4 story up to now, and get a sense of what the outcome of the upcoming hearing will mean, and what will likely happen next. Our guests are Howard Simon, President of the Clean Okeechobee Waters Foundation, and former Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida, and one of the people who wrote Amendment 4; and Sam Levine, a Voting Rights Reporter for The Guardian whose recent story “How Republicans gutted the biggest voting rights victory in recent history” provides a comprehensive overview of the Amendment 4 story.

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