I don’t often report good political news. I found some: while an ACLU-filed lawsuit contesting the legality of the Florida legislature’s quasi-poll tax awaits its day in court next April, more than twenty former felons had their voting rights restored before a Miami-Dade County special committee. To wit:
…Miami-Dade has become the first county in the state to mandate that when people finish serving out their prison time, they are not kept from voting because of financial burdens on the outside. More than $278 million in outstanding court fines from felony cases exist in Miami-Dade since 2000, according to Miami Herald News partner WLRN News.
While former felons in Miami-Dade will still be on the hook for the court costs, this will not restrict them from registering to vote. They can also petition to have their fines converted to community service.
Not everyone is eligible — anyone convicted outside of the state or in federal court is not.
Still, for the hundreds of thousands of Miami-Dade residents who can register to vote, the State Attorney’s Office encourages them to reach out.
“Don’t be afraid,” Fernandez Rundle said. “We want people to come forward.”
Miami-Dade alone counts one hundred fifty-thousand felons who can seek redress. To be clear, these citizens must still pay their fines, but the failure to do will not rescind their right to vote — the only fair solution, one, of course, ignored by the legislature.