The high court refused to weigh in on a federal appeals court decision blocking felons from voting before paying their court fees. The ruling decided in a 6-3 vote has created another obstacle for some felons in Central Florida.
Davion Hampton can’t vote in Florida’s August primaries.
He is among thousands who are barred from the ballot box because of outstanding court fees and fines.
”I got a fine that was put on me for conspiracy of trafficking cocaine for $52,500,” Hampton said.
The Sanford business owner said he spent three years in prison and was accruing interest on his fine.
”I was pretty sure I was gonna be voting on Aug.18, you know what I mean, and I was pretty sure about that,” Hampton said.
As a returning citizen he thought he would be able to vote after voters passed Amendment 4 giving felons access to the ballot box in 2018.
The victory was short lived for Hampton.
Florida passed S.B. 7066, a bill including a requirement that all felons pay their court fees and fines before the terms.
Orlando voting rights activist Desmond Meade with Florida Rights Restoration Coalition called the law supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis unfair and a form of wealth-based discrimination.
”Should a person have to pay to be able to vote, it’s just that simple,” Meade said.
A Tallahassee District judge ruled that Florida could not prevent people with prior felony convictions from voting based on unpaid financial debt if they cannot afford it.
In response, the state filed an appeal and requested a review
.Following the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene, Meade said his organization will continue to work to help people pay off their fees and fines.
Hampton said his financial obligation is so high he doesn’t see a path to the polls.
”I do pay $100 a month and I’m still probably owing about $48,000,” Hampton said.
The courts order could threaten the ability for felons to vote in the November general election.