Florida high court sides with governor on felon voter rights

State / Regional

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis smiles during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

TALLAHASSEE (AP/CNN) – The Florida Supreme Court is siding with Gov. Ron DeSantis in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines.

The court says in an advisory opinion that only felons who have fully completed their sentences can regain access to the ballot box under the voter-approved ballot measure known as Amendment 4.

According to the court, a completed sentence means all outstanding financial obligations must have also been satisfied.

In 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment restoring voting rights to people who had completed their felony sentences.

But last year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law requiring some released felons to pay back outstanding financial obligations before their voting rights could be restored.

The ACLU and other groups sued election officials in the northern district of Florida on behalf of 10 people who lost their right to vote due to felony convictions following the law.

This advisory has no impact on the federal lawsuit and doesn’t hold any legal weight.

The federal case is pending before the 11th circuit court of appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin Jan. 28.

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