Eleventh Circuit Misapplied Law in Florida Felon Voting Case

Honest Elections Project Finds Serious Problems with the Court’s Application of Anti-Discrimination Law

WASHINGTON, DC – The Honest Elections Project has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, stating that a three-judge panel of the court misapplied anti-discrimination law in the ongoing Florida felon voting case. The panel ruled that it’s a discriminatory policy for convicted felons to not have their voting rights reinstated until they pay back their monetary debts to the State of Florida. Honest Elections supports Florida’s appeal for review before the full Eleventh Circuit.

“When someone commits a crime, they owe a debt to society. Florida is well within its rights to expect that debt be paid in full before voting rights are restored—and that reasonably means not just serving prison time, but also paying restitution to victims,” said Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project.

The amicus brief makes three basic points:

  • Florida has reasonably determined that convicted felons should have to complete their criminal sentences in their entirety before getting their liberties back, including voting rights.
  • Victim restitution—as well as fines, fees, and community service—is a legitimate part of that criminal sentence.
  • Florida’s decision to condition the restoration of voting rights on completing lawfully imposed criminal sentences is a commonsense and constitutional policy judgment, not discrimination on the basis of wealth.

“Florida voters are within their rights to give convicted felons the opportunity to earn their voting rights back, but it is equally true that Florida voters can insist that convicted felons complete the full terms of their criminal sentences first,” Snead added. “This case is poised to hand the franchise to tens of thousands of felons who still owe potentially thousands in restitution to their victims.”

About Honest Elections Project

The Honest Elections Project is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan group devoted to supporting the right of every lawful voter to participate in free and honest elections. Through public engagement, advocacy, and public-interest litigation, the Honest Elections Project will defend the fair, reasonable, common sense measures that voters want in place to protect the integrity of the voting process. Above all, the Honest Elections Project supports the voting rights of all Americans—rights that require electoral systems to count every lawful ballot and guard against fraud.

Preserving the integrity of our democracy should be an issue above politics. That’s what American voters want, and the Honest Elections Project will make sure they get nothing less.