Florida Amendment 4, otherwise known as the “Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative,” was passed by Florida voters in November. The measure restored the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions (excludes murder or sexual offenses) after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.
Rep. James Grant, a Republican, has introduced a bill designed to guide the implementation of Amendment 4 by “helping to define criteria for the restoration of voting rights to ex-felons. One condition would require felons to pay all court fees and civil fines outstanding before they can register to vote. The bill passed the Florida House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice last month and could come to another vote as soon as this week.”
According to The Tallahassee Democrat columnist Mark Schlakman, this “ballot initiative was lauded as the greatest expansion of voting eligibility since the 1960s when approved by voters in November. But if legislation advancing along party lines passes, the effect would be far less sweeping.”
Obviously, this is where the conflict lies. Democrats oppose the conditions the bill would impose and feel that it will disenfranchise felons who can’t afford to pay their fines and court fees.