ATLANTA - The following statement regarding today's U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decision in Jones v. Florida is by Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center:
"With mere days before many Floridians begin voting in a historic general election, the Eleventh Circuit today put forward a dangerously misguided decision that throws hundreds of thousands of Floridians into confusion about their sacred right to vote. Amendment 4 was passed with a super-majority of Florida voters’ support in 2018. Since its passage, Florida officials have continued to undermine the democratic result; the Eleventh Circuit aided in that goal today by greenlighting SB 7066 and disenfranchising over 700,000 Floridians once again.
"The state of Florida throughout this litigation has never denied its system of telling returning citizens the amount of their legal financial obligations (LFOs) is an 'administrative nightmare', but the Court’s decision today said bafflingly the state had no obligation to provide that information to Floridians with previous felony convictions. The Court therefore is asking Floridians to read the state’s mind, and if they get it wrong, face potential prosecution for voter fraud.
"The poll tax we have challenged – and will continue to challenge – especially burdens Floridians who are low-income people of color, especially women who statistically earn less than men with or without a criminal conviction. Floridians like our clients Rosemary McCoy and Sheila Singleton will be shut out of the democratic process this November simply because they lack the thousands of dollars they owe in LFOs in order to vote. There is no rehabilitative goal that can be accomplished by denying the franchise to people solely based on their economic status. This decision is wrong and is completely contrary to the words and spirit of our constitution. This fight continues."