Can Florida Felons Vote?
For individuals who have served their sentence and paid outstanding fines and fees, yesBy Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 14, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- 2018: Floridians Vote to Pass Amendment 4, Restoring Many Felons’ Voting Rights
- 2019: Florida Governor Signs Law Limiting Voting Restoration Eligibility
- 2020: 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Florida Law
- Find an Experienced Civil Rights Lawyer
Nearly five million Americans are denied the right to vote because they have felony convictions. In Florida, felon voting rights have been a hotly contested legal issue. In 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill requiring felons to pay all outstanding fines and fees ordered in their felony sentence before their voting rights can be restored. A legal battle over the 2019 law came to a head in 2020 when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State of Florida on the law’s constitutionality.
Here is a quick overview of felon voting rights in Florida following these changes.
2018: Floridians Vote to Pass Amendment 4, Restoring Many Felons’ Voting Rights
In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Constitutional Amendment 4, a ballot measure backed by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Amendment 4 restored voting rights to nearly all felons who had completed their sentences, including probation and parole.
Amendment 4 did not extend to felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who remain ineligible to vote unless their voting rights are restored by the State Clemency Board.
2019: Florida Governor Signs Law Limiting Voting Restoration Eligibility
In June 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill passed by the legislature in May 2019 (SB 7066) requiring felons to pay the total amount of fines, fees, court costs, and restitution ordered as part of their felony sentence before their voting rights could be restored.
The impact of the 2019 law is considerable, as it is estimated that nearly 1 million Floridians who have completed their sentence have not yet fully paid their outstanding fines and fees, making the financial obligation a barrier to their voting rights restoration.
2020: 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Florida Law
In September 2020, after a complicated legal battle, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (located in Atlanta, Georgia, and having jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) ruled in favor of the State of Florida on the constitutionality of SB 7066.
The law continues to be controversial and has faced further legal challenges to its constitutionality and compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act. As of now, however, Florida citizens who have fully served their felony sentence but have not fully paid their fines, fees, and costs are not eligible to have their voting rights restored.
Find an Experienced Civil Rights Lawyer
The upshot? If you are seeking to have your voting rights restored after completing a sentence, or need help navigating Florida’s election law requirements, including voter registration, find an experienced civil rights advocate in your area who can fight for your right to be a part of democracy again. For more information on this legal area, see our civil rights overview.
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