Stop voter suppression in Florida

Stop voter suppression in Florida

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Johannah Carlyon started this petition to Governor Ron DeSantis

Stop voter suppression in Florida

Voter suppression is real. Over the past several years, we have seen election after election decided by tiny margins, in states where vast numbers of people are barred from voting.

  • In Georgia, Stacy Abrams lost her gubernatorial race against Brian Kemp by only 54,723 votes—and 53,000 voters had been purged from the polls that same year.
  • In North Dakota, Incumbent Heidi Heitkamp lost to Kevin Cramer by a mere 35,344 votes—and almost 70,000 voters were disenfranchised because of the state’s Voter ID Law (including 4,998 Native American voters
  • Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the popular vote by 2,868,686 votes—but thanks to unfair voter laws in key battleground states, she still lost the election.

Florida is a perpetual swing state, and up until 2019, its laws still prevented citizens with felony convictions from voting in state or national elections. This law has been changed thanks to Amendment 4, but the Republican-controlled Senate is still trying to block its citizens from participating in its democracy. They’re doing this through a new law, SB 7066, which is specifically designed to shut out lower-income and less fortunate citizens—especially black and brown citizens.

SB 7066 targets people with prior felony convictions, mandating that they must pay any and all fines associated with their conviction before registering to vote. Some of these fines can run up into the thousands of dollars; meanwhile, even former prisoners who make tremendous progress behind bars have trouble finding work after their release. When these fines aren’t paid, they incur more late penalties, and some citizens have their driver’s license suspended—making it even harder for them to pay these fines. This means that SB 7066 is designed to disenfranchise people with convictions.

SB 7066’s impact is exacerbated by the state of Florida’s prison system. Today, Black Floridians are incarcerated at a rate 3.6 times higher than White Floridians. People of color in Florida are disproportionately affected by their state’s legal system, regularly receiving harsher sentences and less leniency from judges and police alike. Because of all of this, one in five Black voters in Florida is currently barred from voting due to a past conviction. Amendment 4 was meant to change that—but SB 7066 is still standing in the way of true voter equality.

We are asking lawmakers to uphold the intention of Amendment 4, which restored the right to vote to ex-felons, by removing the financial barrier that the Florida State Senate put into place to circumvent that. For the sake of Florida, its citizens, and our entire democracy, SB 7066 must be repealed.

Interested in learning more about our petition topic? Visit any of the links below, which taught us more about this important issue:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2001-07-25-0107250314-story.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_disenfranchisement_in_the_United_States 

https://qz.com/1233966/new-data-clearly-illustrate-the-poverty-to-prison-pipeline/

https://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/library/The_Relationship_between_Poverty_and_Mass_Incarceration.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/georgia-governor

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/7/18071438/midterm-election-results-voting-rights-georgia-florida

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/06/us/elections/results-north-dakota-elections.html

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/heidi-heitkamp-north-dakota-senate-voter-id.html

 

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