FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hawkins and Walker Applaud Federal Court Restoration of Florida Ex-Felon Voting Rights
(May 27, 2020, Syracuse, NY) – The Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker Campaign applauds the decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to restore the right to vote to formerly incarcerated Floridians who are unable to pay court fees and fines. Judge Hinkle ruled that the payment requirement violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of wealth.
The decision released on Sunday, May 24, reinstates Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to more than a million Floridians who had completed the terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. Amendment 4 passed overwhelmingly in 2018 with the support of 65 percent of Florida voters.
Hawkins had previously written in support of restoring voting rights, saying that “voting is an important part of bringing formerly incarcerated people back into society.” In that previous statement, “Felons’ Right to Vote Broadens Democracy, Two-Tiered Florida Republican System Unconstitutional,” Hawkins condemned Republican efforts in Florida to impose the payment requirements after Amendment 4 was adopted by the voters. He argued that the Republican Party’s efforts to require payment of fees, essentially a poll tax, was unconstitutional. The federal court agreed.
The Hawkins campaign goes further in calling for the restoration of voting rights for those are currently in prison. Prisoners in Vermont and Maine can vote.
The Hawkins-Walker campaign also supports universal voter registration where the government takes responsibility to register all people to ensure that 100 percent of the population can vote.
The Hawkins-Walker Democracy Agenda advocates many other reforms to strengthen democracy in its Platform Summary section on Political Democracy.