Fines Prevent Too Many People From Voting In Florida

In 2018, Floridians approved the constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to nearly everyone with a criminal record upon completion of their sentence. 1.4 million people became eligible to vote until the Legislature passed a law defining a criminal sentence as complete only after the person sentenced has paid all their legal financial obligations. This article tells the stories of individuals in Florida who cannot vote due to criminal debt ranging from $580 to $59 million, and the varying consequences they face from unpaid fines and fees. Many people have difficulties determining how much they owe because there is no central database with those numbers in the state. The hardship of paying their criminal justice debt can become exacerbated when the debt is sold off to private collection agencies, which tack on interest up to 40 percent. 

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Jesse Wegman
The New York Times