Two Events to support Voter Restoration Rights
Rights Restoration Workshop
May 22 from 6-8 pm at the Gifford Community Center there will be a “Rights Restoration Ballot Initiative Next Step” workshop with Desmond Meade. Desmond and his campaign to restore the voting rights of Floridians convicted of felonies were recently featured on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
Training and Neighborhood Canvass
May 28, at 3:30pm the DEC and Young Dems will be hosting a 30 minute training session at Dodgertown Elementary, followed by a 2 hour neighborhood canvas to get signatures on the Voting Rights Restoration Petition.
Why should I get involved?
Being able to vote on everything from the school board member who decides critical pieces of education policy for your children, to the State Attorney who decides how to prosecute crimes, to the city councilmember who makes decisions about parking and zoning, to your State representatives, to your Federal Senators and House Representative, to the President of the United States are all important ways for citizens to have their voices heard. Government touches every aspect of our lives, and we should get a say in how our elected officials do that.
Aren’t you saying crime isn’t a big deal by letting felons vote?
No. What we are saying is that once you’ve paid your debt to society by completing your sentence you’ve earned back your right to vote. Voting rights are only restored once all segments of a sentence are completed. That means any incarceration time, plus any time on probation and the conditions of probation. All of that must be done before a person can vote.
But isn’t it normal to prevent felons from voting?
No, not at all. Florida is an extreme outlier on this issue. We are one of only 3 states to permanently bar people with felony convictions from voting. The other two are Iowa and Kentucky, and since Florida has a much higher population than with of those states, we disenfranchise many, many more people.
Okay, this makes sense. But I can’t canvass. How can I help?
One of the lessons from the November 2016 election was that we cannot neglect the importance of talking to our own friends and neighbors. When you can explain why an issue is important to you, to someone you care about, you can reach people. So, print ten copies of the petition (https://www.floridiansforafairdemocracy.com/sign-the-petition) Fill one out yourself. Talk to anyone you live with and encourage them to sign. Bring copies to your neighbor, your friends at work, your church group. Commit to collecting ten petitions – just 10. You can do it! And then, take the responsibility of sending them in to the address on the petition. We can share as many news articles as we want, but democracy doesn’t work unless WE put in the work.
Let’s do this!
by Meredith Jones
Meredith Jones is an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida since 2012. She is a Managing Member of the Vero Beach law firm Jones Chesnutt, PLLC (joneschesnutt.com).