Former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum (D) wrote an op-ed for the Miami Herald where he expressed his outrage over a new bill awaiting a signature from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) that effectively rolls back the language of the state’s Voting Restoration Amendment, also known as Amendment 4.
As Gillum points out, Amendment 4, which amended the state constitution to grant the right to vote to the formerly incarcerated, is crucial because it allows valuable members of society to “participate in our democracy.” In the 2018 midterm elections, 64.5 percent of the people voted in favor of the measure. Gillum writes:
The outcome reflected the reality that ex-felons aren’t uniform in color, creed or region. They are our brothers and our sisters. And by law, they are part of our citizenry and deserve to be represented.
In response to lawmakers in Florida who just passed a law that, as Gillum explains, “inexplicably” removes “parole or probation” language from Amendment 4 “to include restitution—or money,” Gillum calls the bill racist and laments:
So, instead of allowing the automatic restitution that voters intended, they’ve thrown up another roadblock—a poll tax for ex-felons to get their rights back. It’s wrong, transparent and blocking the will of voters.
The former mayor goes on to say the bill is “unworthy” of the Florida governor’s signature. “It’s unworthy of the rich diversity of our state,” Gillum says. “And its passage marked one of the Florida legislature’s worst days.”
DeSantis told press that he will sign the bill into law.