Ballot Initiative Strategy Center releases statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to block hundreds of thousands of Floridians from voting this year

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Washington, D.C. — The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s (BISC) Executive Director, Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, issued the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to allow an 11th Circuit order permitting a modern-day poll tax on Floridians with past felony convictions:

Today, Justices Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh remained silent as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stripped hundreds of thousands of Floridians of their right to vote. The Supreme Court’s decision to side with the 11th Circuit and allow Gov. DeSantis’s pay-to-vote scheme is wrong and plainly undemocratic.

In 2018, 64 percent of Floridians approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million citizens with past convictions. Despite the will of the people being made absolutely clear, Governor DeSantis gutted the amendment by requiring newly-eligible voters to completely pay off all fees, fines and restitution before registering to vote—affecting over 550,000 people who had already completed their terms of incarceration, probation or parole. 

This modern-day poll tax silences people from all walks of life, and its effect on the legitimacy of this year’s elections cannot be overlooked. As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion yesterday, “This Court’s inaction continues a trend of condoning disenfranchisement.” 

We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision but not deterred. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center will continue to work with its partners in Florida to continue the fight for voting rights, and we encourage people to support efforts to register people to vote ahead of the election by contributing to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Fines & Fees Fund. Today’s Supreme Court decision may be a setback, but while its consequences are considerable in light of this year’s elections, our fight for justice and democracy is far from over.