Desmond Meade. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
A federal judge has temporarily set aside a Florida law that barred some felons from voting because of their inability to pay fines and other legal debts.
The ruling handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle means thousands of felons who were denied the right to vote will be able to cast ballots unless the state gets a higher court to intervene or if Hinkle later upholds the constitutionality of the state law.
As many as 1.4 million felons who have completed their sentences regained voting privileges under a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters last fall. But the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year passed a bill stipulating that felons must pay all fines, restitution and other financial obligations to complete their sentences. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis later signed the bill.