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SB 7066 Can Hinder an Ex-Felon’s Ability to Vote in Florida

Florida voters approved Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to nearly 1.4 million ex-felons back in November 2018. However, in May 2019, Republican lawmakers have passed SB 7066 that requires convicted felons pay all fines, restitution, and other court-ordered fees prior to regaining their voting rights, creating another legal obstacle affected individuals must overcome.

When the bill passed, Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed he plans to sign it. He received the bill this past Friday.

If signed, the bill would take effect on July 1.

Amendment 4 states that convicted felons who have completed all terms of their sentence can register to vote in Florida. However, this law excludes those convicted of homicide or certain sex crimes.

According to a recent study by the Brennan Center, over 2,000 ex-felons have registered to vote within the first three months of 2019. More than 44 percent of these individuals were African Americans, in comparison to just 13 percent of the overall voter population.

Unfortunately, ex-felons have a lower income, a lower level of education, and live in communities with a higher unemployment rate compared to other voters throughout the state. The average income of these individuals was $15,000 less than that of the average state voter.

If you are a convicted felon and interested in becoming a registered voter, you must first check your case file online with your county court. However, if your case was at least 20 years old, you must request to see your case file at the courthouse.

When you view your case file online, the “financial” section should display your remaining balance for fines and fees associated with your case. Ensure there is $0 in your remaining balance.

However, if you owe restitution that isn’t tracked by the court’s system, check with the clerk of court. You may be able to set up a payment plan if there is still money owed.

For more information about felonies in Miami, contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today at (305) 670-9919 to discuss your case.

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