Are They Really Free?
It's election time and I'm excited to vote! This isn't my first time voting, but presidential elections have a way of making me feel so connected to history and the future. Unfortunately, voting is not a freedom for all U.S. citizens...ex-felons.
In the past, people convicted of felony offenses cannot vote in any state or national election upon release.
Ex-felons are only able to vote once their probation periods were over and all fees/fines had been paid. This is voter suppression. We the public are aware of the hardships ex-felons face trying to get a job and rejoin society all while being watched by the law. When they are able to find work, they're subject to taxes like everyone else.
It was amazing to see Michael Bloomberg pays $16 million towards Florida's ex-felon's fees. This allowed over 31,000 people to vote. Florida is one of those states where ex-felons can't vote until probation is over and fees paid. Many politicians and the public have tried to fight this Floridian statute because it is illegal to have someone pay to vote, which is essentially what Florida and other states are doing.
Like most of American history, these laws are racially motivated. Almost 8% of Black people are prevented from voting due to past felony convictions. That's compared to the 2% of non-Black ex-felons. As expected, the laws are political too. From 2007 to 2011, 150,000 ex-felons had their right to vote restored in Florida. 32,000 of them registered and voted. Unfortunately for conservatives, 87% of Black ex-felons registered and voted democratic . Facts from ncsc.org
If the courts deems a [wo]man fit enough to be released back into society, that means they are fit enough to vote. The government takes their money [taxes] and uses their labor, so let them vote regardless of probation and fines owed. These statutes went to the Supreme Court in 2020 and the courts declined to overturn Florida's Amendment 4. This is exactly why it is extremely important that the next president fill late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat. We need change from Jim Crow-era laws like these.
There's a '60 Minute' tv segment that inspired this post. I encourage you to watch and form your own opinions.