© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Poll: Floridians Slightly Favor Allowing Ex-Felons Who Owe Money The Right To Vote

Felons voting rights
Daniel Rivero WLRN

A series of polls from the St. Leo University Polling Institute shows Floridians deeply divided on some of the major issues that the state will face in the upcoming year. A slight majority of those polled favor giving felons who can't pay their fees the right to vote.

In 2018, voters passed a Constitutional amendment to allow people with felony convictions to regain their voting rights after they complete their sentences. But state lawmakers tacked on a provision that requires them to pay off existing fees first.  

St. Leo Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando notes the amendment passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, which means it got broad support from Republicans.

"But, in terms of the implementation, people who are kind of seeking to slow down the increase in voting rights for these ex-felons have been able to message this in terms of fairness, or in terms of continuing to pay their debts to society," he said. 

"And if you look at the cross tabs on this, it tracks pretty closely with Republican and Democratic voter ID - but Democrats still having more Republicans in favor than Democrats who are against," Orlando said.

Statewide, nearly half of those polled support allowing felons to vote even if they cannot pay fees or fines from their sentences, with about 41 percent opposed.

Graphic on felons voting
Credit St. Leo University Polling Institute
St. Leo University Polling Institute poll on allowing felons who have not paid their fines or restitution the right to vote

On Dec. 17, the Hillsborough State Attorney's office announced it's starting a program aimed at giving convicted felons back their right to vote. And it revolves around money.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has teamed with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which was involved in the drafting of Amendment 4.  They will create a process to have an attorney review what financial barriers ex-felons face, and get help in paying it off.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.