(CNN) – Twenty former felons got their voting rights restored in a Miami courtroom Friday, and singer John Legend was on hand for the historic occasion.
Last November, a statewide referendum passed amendment four, restoring voting rights to more than 1.2 million Floridians with felony records.
Legend is a high-profile advocate of criminal justice reform.
The docket in Friday’s courtroom allows Miami-Dade judges to set aside financial penalties that would prohibit ex-felons from participating in elections.
Florida’s legislature, led by GOP lawmakers, wants to require ex-felons to pay off any outstanding court-related debt before they can vote.
Critics likened that to a racist poll tax, reminiscent of Jim Crow-era suppression.
But Miami-Dade judges are trying to work around that.
Former felons will still be on the hook for the court costs, but fines will no longer prevent them from registering to vote.Grab the FREE WDTN News App from the Apple Store or Google play. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen.