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Judge Rules Against Florida On Felons Paying Fines To Vote

Desmond Meade was the driving force behind the passage last November of Amendment 4, restoring the voting rights of Floridians convicted of a felony who have served their sentence. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe.

The 125-page ruling issued Sunday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee concerns the state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for felons who have completed their sentence.

The Republican-led Legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time.

Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word, expecting the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal.

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