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Preliminary injunction motion filed in ACLU lawsuit for felon voting rights

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released Saturday it’s filed a preliminary injunction motion to block Ron DeSantis administration legislation.

The injunction is intended to make a federal case of Amendment 4 legislation that critics believe creates obstacles in the way of restoring felon voting rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law are the groups responsible for this latest legal action. They also filed a lawsuit immediately after the law was passed in June.

Their complaint is the law, SB7066, unjustly and unconstitutionally denies newly re-enfranchised voters their voting rights based on an inability to pay fines associated with their crime.

“Politicians cannot legally place a price tag on a person’s right to vote. It’s past time for over a million Floridians to reclaim their place in democracy,” said Orion Danjuma, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program in a news release.

Preliminary research by Daniel A. Smith, Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Florida, suggests SB7066 disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of voters based on its criteria, allowing for only about 66,000 of Florida’s 375,000 felons the ability to restore their voting rights, the news release said.

That’s less than 1 in 5 people with a felony conviction in Florida who will be able to vote in the next election cycle if the law persists, as is. The ACLU of Florida isn’t taking that lightly.

“We have been saying that this law has sought to remove people’s eligibility to vote and participate in our democracy. We now have additional evidence that supports that fact,” stated Daniel Tilley, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida. 

“Whether it was by enforcing literacy tests or requiring poll taxes, politicians have tried to restrict access to the ballot box throughout our country’s history and particularly for African Americans. Our legislature and governor have carried on that sordid history through SB7066. Despite this, we are committed to fighting to end barriers to voting.”

The news release suggests lawmakers have set out to systematically dismantle voting rights restored to hundreds of thousands of people in the text of Amendment 4. 

The motion states without the data infrastructure to support such a complex law, it’s bound to be implemented unjustly and undermine the electoral system in Florida. Early analysis suggests SB7066 will have a “pronounced racial impact” where white people are more likely to have their fees waived and rights restored over African Americans.

The preliminary injunction, if granted, would stop lawmakers from enforcing the law until the lawsuit is resolved.

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