Will felons vote in Florida? Not so fast, says Gov. DeSantis

Florida conservatives were horrified last November when Amendment 4 passed, restoring voting rights to more than a million state felons not convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

Now what? we all wondered.  Will Democrats manage to steal Florida next November using ex-cons' votes? Ron DeSantis (R), elected governor last November, has answered: "Not so fast."

On Friday, 28 June, DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7066, which will take effect 1 July.  Here is a summary of the bill, available on the Senate website:

  • Modifies the voting application to require a person to make an affirmative statement that he or she has been convicted of a felony and if so, has obtained his or her right to vote pursuant to executive clemency or Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution.
  • Defines which offenses constitute "murder" and "felony sexual offenses" under the new constitutional provision.
  • Provides that voting rights are restored upon "completion of all terms of sentence", meaning completion of any portion of a sentence within the four corners of the sentencing document:

o Nonmonetary (imprisonment, probation/community control, monitored supervision [including parole], any other term); and,

o Monetary (victim's restitution, court-ordered fines/fees, any other term).

  • Specifies that restitution, fines, and fees ordered by the court do not include any fines, fees, or costs accrued after the date of the sentence.
  • Specifies that restitution, fines, and fees be completed in the following manner or in any combination thereof: actual payment; upon the payee's approval, the termination of such financial obligation by the court; or completion of all community service hours, if the court, unless otherwise prohibited by law, converts the financial obligation to community service.
  • Authorizes the court to make certain modifications of the financial obligations to provide relief, provided such modifications do not infringe on a defendant's or victim's constitutional rights, but clarifies that this provision does not apply to the conversion of financial obligations to civil liens.
  • Provides in s. 98.0751, F.S., that the Department of State (DOS) makes the initial determination on whether the information is credible and reliable regarding whether a person is eligible to vote under Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution, and forwards such to the supervisor of elections.
  • Provides in s. 98.0751, F.S., that the supervisor of elections (supervisor) verifies and makes the final determination whether a person who registers to vote is eligible under Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution. The supervisor may request additional assistance from the DOS in making the final determination.
  • Grants registrants immunity from prosecution for submitting false voter registration information regarding their eligibility following a felony conviction on registration applications submitted from January 8, 2019 (effective date of Amendment 4) until before July 1, 2019 (effective date of the bill).
  • Mandates that the state and county notify convicted felons of the outstanding terms of their sentence with respect to voting eligibility, upon release from custody/supervision.

Note specifically this provision, which speaks volumes for the rule of law that other states should follow:

  • Provides that voting rights are restored upon "completion of all terms of sentence", meaning completion of any portion of a sentence within the four corners of the sentencing document:

o Monetary (victim's restitution, court-ordered fines/fees, any other term).

Predictably, the ACLU, the NAACP, and other liberal groups have already filed a federal lawsuit challenging S.B. 7066.  Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement:

Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation. They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone's right to vote.

Hey Julie, can you spell "spin"?

The law states the obvious.  Of course all terms of a sentence must be completed.  Of course there must be monetary restitution to victims if that is specified in sentencing documents.  Of course court-ordered fines and fees must be paid.  Try not obeying sentencing terms in traffic court and see what happens.

The "action-reaction" principle says Democrats are likely to create some sort of GoFundMe mechanism to collect money that ex-cons can use to pay their debts.  Florida election officials should be paying close attention to this and other potential shenanigans.

Florida conservatives were horrified last November when Amendment 4 passed, restoring voting rights to more than a million state felons not convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

Now what? we all wondered.  Will Democrats manage to steal Florida next November using ex-cons' votes? Ron DeSantis (R), elected governor last November, has answered: "Not so fast."

On Friday, 28 June, DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7066, which will take effect 1 July.  Here is a summary of the bill, available on the Senate website:

  • Modifies the voting application to require a person to make an affirmative statement that he or she has been convicted of a felony and if so, has obtained his or her right to vote pursuant to executive clemency or Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution.
  • Defines which offenses constitute "murder" and "felony sexual offenses" under the new constitutional provision.
  • Provides that voting rights are restored upon "completion of all terms of sentence", meaning completion of any portion of a sentence within the four corners of the sentencing document:

o Nonmonetary (imprisonment, probation/community control, monitored supervision [including parole], any other term); and,

o Monetary (victim's restitution, court-ordered fines/fees, any other term).

  • Specifies that restitution, fines, and fees ordered by the court do not include any fines, fees, or costs accrued after the date of the sentence.
  • Specifies that restitution, fines, and fees be completed in the following manner or in any combination thereof: actual payment; upon the payee's approval, the termination of such financial obligation by the court; or completion of all community service hours, if the court, unless otherwise prohibited by law, converts the financial obligation to community service.
  • Authorizes the court to make certain modifications of the financial obligations to provide relief, provided such modifications do not infringe on a defendant's or victim's constitutional rights, but clarifies that this provision does not apply to the conversion of financial obligations to civil liens.
  • Provides in s. 98.0751, F.S., that the Department of State (DOS) makes the initial determination on whether the information is credible and reliable regarding whether a person is eligible to vote under Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution, and forwards such to the supervisor of elections.
  • Provides in s. 98.0751, F.S., that the supervisor of elections (supervisor) verifies and makes the final determination whether a person who registers to vote is eligible under Art. VI, s. 4, of the State Constitution. The supervisor may request additional assistance from the DOS in making the final determination.
  • Grants registrants immunity from prosecution for submitting false voter registration information regarding their eligibility following a felony conviction on registration applications submitted from January 8, 2019 (effective date of Amendment 4) until before July 1, 2019 (effective date of the bill).
  • Mandates that the state and county notify convicted felons of the outstanding terms of their sentence with respect to voting eligibility, upon release from custody/supervision.

Note specifically this provision, which speaks volumes for the rule of law that other states should follow:

  • Provides that voting rights are restored upon "completion of all terms of sentence", meaning completion of any portion of a sentence within the four corners of the sentencing document:

o Monetary (victim's restitution, court-ordered fines/fees, any other term).

Predictably, the ACLU, the NAACP, and other liberal groups have already filed a federal lawsuit challenging S.B. 7066.  Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement:

Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation. They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone's right to vote.

Hey Julie, can you spell "spin"?

The law states the obvious.  Of course all terms of a sentence must be completed.  Of course there must be monetary restitution to victims if that is specified in sentencing documents.  Of course court-ordered fines and fees must be paid.  Try not obeying sentencing terms in traffic court and see what happens.

The "action-reaction" principle says Democrats are likely to create some sort of GoFundMe mechanism to collect money that ex-cons can use to pay their debts.  Florida election officials should be paying close attention to this and other potential shenanigans.