Restoration of Voting Rights in Florida

In November 2018, Florida voters approved a ballot measure restoring voting rights to more than a million individuals with prior felony convictions. But thanks to a new state law and its difficult implementation, many citizens remain effectively disenfranchised.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Months after Floridians voted to restore the right to vote to individuals with prior felony convictions who had completed their sentences, the state legislature passed a bill, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, explicitly requiring these individuals to pay all fines and fees before they can cast a ballot, regardless of circumstance. Many have criticized the law, SB 7066, for instituting a financial hurdle to exercising the right to vote and effectively overturning the will of the voters who passed Amendment 4.

But a significant issue has also been the fact that the state has no central database or system for actually tracking what people owe with any certainty — thus putting the onus on the voter to navigate a murky system. Florida’s Department of State said it was developing a procedure wherein it can regularly update counties with lists of felons who owe fees, but the lack of process remains a serious concern.

In October, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law for 17 people who challenged SB 7066 in court, and ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny the franchise to those who are “genuinely unable to pay.” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle also said that there needed to be a process for evaluating someone’s claim that they can’t afford to pay their outstanding fees. Meanwhile, the 2020 election — and registration deadlines — draw nearer, with Hinkle having accused the DeSantis administration in December of trying to “run out the clock.” 

American Oversight is investigating the development and implementation of Amendment 4 and SB 7066, looking at the related records of state and local officials involved in implementing the new law.

 

OUR REQUESTS

  • Florida House of Representatives legislative staff communications with state elections officials about SB 7066, Amendment 4, or voter-roll maintenance;
  • Communications between the office of State Rep. James Grant, the author of HB 7089, which aimed to weaken Amendment 4, and voter-fraud activists like Kris Kobach, J. Christian Adams or Hans von Spakovsky;
  • Communications between State Rep. Grant’s office and state elections officials; 
  • Records related to the implementation of SB 7066, including directives, guidance, or records showing how information about sentence-term completion is tracked and shared. We requested these records from the secretary of state and the county clerk offices of the following counties: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach;
  • Email communications between county clerk offices and other local officials and private collection agents about the implementation of SB 7066. Those counties include Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach;
  • Communications between the county clerks of courts of Clay, Orange and Pinellas Counties and other state and local officials involved in implementing Amendment 4;
  • Records from the Florida Department of State and the Office of the Governor related to the Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group (also known as the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force), which was established pursuant to SB 7066;
  • Internal guidance from the Florida Office of Executive Clemency regarding applications by felons for the restoration of civil rights, as well as records identifying the number of such applications;
  • Records from the Florida Department of Corrections related to the department’s role in implementing Amendment 4, SB 7066, or the restoration of voting rights for people with prior felony convictions;
  • Emails from the Florida Department of State to county elections supervisors about Amendment 4, SB 7066, or the restoration of voting rights; and
  • Communications between Florida state officials and the Public Interest Legal Foundation and Honest Elections Project.

Related Documents

April 26, 2020

Florida Senate Records Regarding Emails with Lobbyist David Ramba

Florida Senate
Agency Record
April 21, 2020

No Records Response from the Jackson County, Florida Supervisor of Elections for Communications with Judicial Watch, ACRU, or PILF

Jackson County - Florida
Agency Reply
April 7, 2020

Florida Office of the Governor Communications with Lobbyist David Ramba

Florida Office of the Governor
Agency Record
March 30, 2020

No Records Response from the Hendry County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections Regarding Communications with Representatives of Judicial Watch and Other Groups

Hendry County - Florida
Agency Reply
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Broward County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Leon County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Miami-Dade County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Duval County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Hendry County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Hendry County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Gadsden County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Gadsden County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Jackson County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Jackson County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

PRR to the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Seeking Communications with Conservative Activists

Osceola County - Florida
FOIA Request
March 23, 2020

PRR to Florida Governor Seeking Communications with Public Interest Legal Foundation and the Honest Elections Project

Florida Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
March 23, 2020

PRR to Florida Department of State Seeking Communications with Public Interest Legal Foundation and the Honest Elections Project

Florida Department of State
FOIA Request
March 10, 2020

Florida House of Representatives Records Regarding Communications with David Ramba

Florida House of Representatives
Agency Record
March 2, 2020

Florida Department of State Records in Response to Request for Guidances on H.B. 281

Florida Department of State
Agency Record
February 27, 2020

Florida Public Records Request Seeking Emails Between Florida Office of the Governor and David Ramba

Florida Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
February 27, 2020

Florida Public Records Request Seeking Emails Between Florida Senators and David Ramba

Florida Senate
FOIA Request
February 27, 2020

Florida Public Records Request Seeking Emails Between Florida Representatives and David Ramba

Florida House of Representatives
FOIA Request
February 21, 2020

Florida Sentate Records of Sen. Gruters’ Communications about Voter Registration Maintenance

Florida Senate
Agency Record
January 20, 2020

Nassau County, Florida, Records Regarding Voter a Protection Think Tank

Nassau County - Florida
Agency Record
January 20, 2020

Nassau County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections Emails with Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Nassau County - Florida
FOIA Request
January 14, 2020

Florida Governor’s Office Regarding the Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group

Florida Office of the Governor
Agency Record
January 7, 2020

Records from Leon County, Florida, Related to Voter Protection Think Tank

Leon County - Florida
Agency Record
January 3, 2020

Hernando County, Florida, Records of Emails Between Clerk and Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Hernando County - Florida
Agency Record
December 30, 2019

Okaloosa County, Florida, Records of Emails with Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Okaloosa County - Florida
Agency Record
December 26, 2019

Florida Commission on Offender Review Records Regarding Applications for the Restoration of Civil Rights

Florida Commission on Offender Review
Agency Record
December 26, 2019

Martin County, Florida, Records of Emails Regarding the Implementation of Florida Amendment 4

Martin County - Florida
Agency Record
December 20, 2019

PRR to Seminole County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections for Emails Between Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Seminole County - Florida
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Nassau County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections for Emails with Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Nassau County - Florida
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Okaloosa County, Florida, for Emails Between Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Okaloosa County - Florida
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Hernando County, Florida, Clerk for Emails Between Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Hernando County - Florida
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Florida Department of Corrections for Emails Between Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Florida Department of Corrections
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Florida Department of Law Enforcement for Emails Between Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

PRR to Florida Department of State Seeking Emails for Members of the Restoration of Voting Rights Task Force

Florida Department of State
FOIA Request
December 11, 2019

Broward County, Florida, Records Regarding Registrations and Election System Maintenance

Broward County - Florida
Agency Record
November 12, 2019

Public Records Request to the Florida Office of Executive Clemency Seeking Records Regarding Applications for the Restoration of Civil Rights

Florida Commission on Offender Review
FOIA Request
November 8, 2019

Public Records Request to Orange County in Florida Seeking Emails with Officials Involved in Implementing Florida Amendment 4

Orange County - Florida
FOIA Request
November 8, 2019

Public Records Request to Clay County in Florida Seeking Emails with Officials Involved in Implementing Florida Amendment 4

Clay County - Florida
FOIA Request
November 8, 2019

Public Records Request to Pinellas County in Florida Seeking Emails with Officials Involved in Implementing Florida Amendment 4

Pinellas County - Florida
FOIA Request
October 23, 2019

Leon County, Florida, Election-Related Emails Received From Florida Director of Elections Maria Matthews

Leon County - Florida
Agency Record
October 1, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida DOC Seeking Records Related to Voting Rights Restoration

Florida Department of Corrections
FOIA Request
September 13, 2019

Hillsborough County, Florida, Records Concerning the Implementation of FL SB 7066

Hillsborough County - Florida
Agency Record
September 13, 2019

Leon County, Florida, Records Regarding the Implementation of FL SB 7066

Leon County - Florida
Agency Record
September 12, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida Department of State Seeking Emails to County Supervisors of Elections Regarding Voting Rights Restoration

Florida Department of State
FOIA Request
August 29, 2019

Public Records Request to Governor’s Office Seeking Records Related to the Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group

Florida Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
August 29, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida’s Department of State Seeking Records Related to the Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group

Florida Department of State
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Palm Beach County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting the Implementation of FL SB 7066

Palm Beach County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Palm Beach County Clerk’s Office Seeking Email Communications Related FL SB 7066

Palm Beach County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Broward County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting Its Role in Implementing FL SB 7066 

Broward County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Broward County Clerk’s Office Seeking Email Communications Related to Implementing FL SB 7066

Broward County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting Its Role in Implementing FL SB 7066 

Miami-Dade County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office Seeking Seeking Email Communications Related to Implementing FL SB 7066

Miami-Dade County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting Its Role in Implementing FL SB 7066 

Hillsborough County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office Seeking Email Communications Related to Implementing FL SB 7066

Hillsborough County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Duval County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting Its Role in Implementing FL SB 7066 

Duval County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Duval County Clerk’s Office Seeking Email Communications Related to Implementing FL SB 7066

Duval County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Leon County Clerk’s Office Seeking Records Reflecting Its Role in Implementing FL SB 7066 

Leon County - Florida
FOIA Request
August 21, 2019

Public Records Request to Leon County Clerk’s Office Seeking Seeking Email Communications Related to Implementing FL SB 7066

Leon County - Florida
FOIA Request
July 3, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida SOS Regarding Requirements to Pay Fines Before Voting

Florida Department of State
FOIA Request
April 26, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida House of Representatives Seeking Communications Between Rep. James Grant and Voter Fraud Activists

Florida House of Representatives
FOIA Request
April 26, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida House of Representatives Seeking Communications Between Rep. James Grant and State Officials

Florida House of Representatives
FOIA Request
April 26, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida House of Representatives Seeking Elections-Related Communications with State Officials

Florida House of Representatives
FOIA Request