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SPLC Statement on Ruling in Amendment 4 Litigation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Friday, October 18th, the U.S. District Court issued a ruling on a motion for preliminary injunction of Florida Senate Bill 7066 (SB 7066). The following statement is by Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"The Court made crystal clear today that a returning citizen's vote cannot be conditioned on their wealth. Rosemary McCoy and everyone involved in the case is fighting for their right to vote and believed they earned that right back after Floridian’s overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4 last November.
"While the decision only applies to the plaintiffs, the writing is on the wall for the Florida Legislature to correct the administrative chaos it created in passing SB 7066. This was an important first step in the case, and we look forward to ultimately proving in court that SB 7066 is a modern-day poll tax."

After Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4 in 2018, which restored the right to vote to over 1.4 million residents who had completed their sentences for felony convictions, the Legislature introduced and passed a law known as SB 7066, which requires people with past felony convictions to pay fines, fees and restitution before they can vote. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit in July that describes how the payment requirement is an unconstitutional poll tax and discriminates against people based on their economic status. Furthermore, women of color are paid less than their male and white female counterparts, and are likely to be more adversely affected by the new law. Nearly a quarter of all black women in Florida live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate for black women with a felony conviction, women like SPLC's clients Rosemary McCoy and Sheila Singleton, is more than 43 percent.