In 1885, Florida implemented poll taxes as a prerequisite for voting, which disproportionately disenfranchised Black Floridians.
Florida’s lawmakers, over the centuries, have meted out criminal fines as a “not yet” mechanism to strategically subvert systemic changes. When slavery was abolished, lawmakers were not yet willing to acknowledge and accept the rights of Black Floridians. Criminal fines offered them a legal way to say “not yet” to the full citizenship status of Black Floridians. Poll taxes were yet another barrier levied to keep the most economically oppressed Floridians, who were mostly Black, from exercising their rights to vote. Centuries later, barriers that suppress the votes of Black and other Floridians still exist. A recent iteration of this policy can be found in the state’s passage of a law that requires formerly incarcerated people to pay their court fines and fees before receiving back their right to vote.