We’ve just won a decisive court ruling in our Florida voting rights case. The judge sent a clear message to Floridians yesterday that their right to vote can’t be denied on the basis of wealth.
You may recall that, in November 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4 to restore the vote to 1.4 million of their fellow residents with previous felony convictions. It was the largest single expansion of voting rights since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But that victory was quickly undermined by Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who put into place what amounts to a modern-day poll tax.
This new law meant that hundreds of thousands of newly enfranchised people – including our clients Rosemary McCoy and Sheila Singleton, both Black women – still couldn’t vote because of legal financial obligations.
Yesterday’s ruling means that Rosemary and Sheila will be able to cast ballots along with their friends and neighbors in Florida’s primary elections on March 17.
But the case isn’t over.
Despite clear instructions from a lower court in October and the appeals court yesterday, Governor DeSantis is digging in his heels to ensure poor people in his state are blocked from voting.
Although the state claims it wasn’t aware of the harm it would cause when this law was enacted, state officials surely understand its impact now – after the evidence we presented during months of legal proceedings.
We’re continuing to fight so that hundreds of thousands of others will be able to join Rosemary and Sheila at the polls. We look forward to a trial in April to enter additional evidence establishing that this voter-suppression law is unconstitutional.
Throughout our history, we’ve seen efforts to suppress the right to vote for people of color and those who struggle to make ends meet. Financial barriers to the ballot box are more acutely burdensome for people like our clients – Black women who endure multiple layers of discrimination based on race, gender, and class.
That’s why this work is so vital.
It’s your support that makes it possible. Thank you for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us in this fight – and for all you do – for equal justice and equal opportunity.
Photo by Bill Corbett/ACLU