Florida Phoenix, a non-profit statewide media blog, reported on Monday that Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum called the efforts of the Florida Legislature to implement Amendment 4 a “poll tax.”
Amendment 4 was a ballot initiative which passed with 64% of the vote in 2018 and restored the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.
The amendment does not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
Florida Phoenix also reported that Gillum said, “It was very, very clear that court fees and fines were not in the constitutional language when voters — again 64 percent of us — went out and approved the constitutional amendment to automatically restore rights to a class of returning citizen.”
However, Florida Phoenix left out important facts about Amendment 4.
First, supporters of Amendment 4 told the Florida Supreme Court under questioning about the initiative, that “complete all terms of their sentence” language included fines, fees and restitution.
Second, Florida Phoenix did not include in their report that the implementation language passed by the Florida Legislature allows for individuals to ask a court to waive fees and allows for community service to be substituted for payment in certain instances.
Rather, Florida Phoenix adopted language of those supporting no payment any fees and reported that voters “automatically” restored voting rights for some 1.4 million people who had felony records (except those convicted of murder or sex crimes.)
During another line of questioning, Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia asked Gillum about the state’s efforts to remove voters from the polls who are not eligible to vote.
“Mr. Gillum, you are not opposed to legal purging of the voter database to remove those who are not eligible to vote,” Loudermilk asked.
“I would say I don’t trust the purging process in this state,” Gillum replied, arguing the process is targeted at hampering the minority vote.
Late last year TR reported that Gillum’s brother, Marcus, voted in Leon County, Florida while he was a resident Chicago, Illinois. Months after the report, Marcus Gillum was purged from Leon County’s voter rolls.