ACLU Fights to Secure Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated in Florida

By Shani Saxon Oct 07, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appeared in federal court on Monday (October 7) to fight a Florida law that requires formerly incarcerated Florida residents to pay fines before they can have their voting rights restored, according to a statement emailed to Colorlines.

The law at the center of this fight establishes wealth-based roadblocks to voting and goes against overwhelming support for the Voting Restoration Amendment, also known as Amendment 4, which voters passed during the midterm elections.

An emailed statement from the ACLU explains:


Floridians voted in 2018 to amend their state constitution to restore voting rights to people convicted of most felonies once they’ve completed their sentences. It was the single largest expansion of voting rights in the United States since the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971. In response, the legislature passed a bill to limit Amendment 4’s reach, requiring people to repay any fines, fees and restitution before their voting rights are restored—effectively, a poll tax. 

With Gruver v. Barton, attorneys for the ACLU seek to challenge the limits placed on Amendment 4. “Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process,” reads the ACLU statement. “[However,] some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation. They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone’s right to vote.”

The hearing is expected to last several days.