Hundreds attend forum to restore felon voting rights
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
When Floridians make their way to the polls in November, the ballot will include an amendment to automatically restore voting rights to felons who've served their time.
Unity, engagement, activism and change are just a few of the topics of discussion that community leaders talked about during the 18th Annual Movement for Change “Freedom is not Free” event.
A spokesman for Coalition of Justice for Northwest Florida says it comes at a time when the issues in our country seem overwhelming.
Hundreds of people, including city and county leaders, crowded the room for the 18th Annual Freedom is Not Free event.
The chairman of Floridians for Fair Democracy, Desmond Meade, has been praying for change.
“I am a person you call a former convicted felon," mentioned Meade.
One point four million people in Florida can't vote because of a prior felony conviction.
Meade was convicted of drug and firearms charges in 2001.
"We're just everyday people who made mistakes and are trying to move on with their lives," Meade said.
Jerry MacIntosh with Coalition of Justice for Northwest Florida agrees.
"I think his story is a story that needs to be told all over Florida and this country really because it’s a great story," Macintosh explained.
If passed, the amendment would allow felons who have completed their sentences, including parole, probation and restitution to vote.
The amendment would still ban convicted felons from voting who have committed murder or a felony sexual offense
Many people who were at the event tell us the fight for justice has been a long journey
"It is time for people who have paid their dues to be able to get a part back into society," said Tuesday Knight.
"If it wasn't for second chances some of us would not be able to fulfill our purpose in life," added Toni Anderson.
"When you look at states like Texas that allow people to earn the eligibility to vote again, South Carolina, Georgia, and for Florida to be disconnected from those states and be so far out of alignment with the rest of the country, there is a problem there," Meade explained.
Florida voters will decide on amendment number four this fall.