Activist Desmond Meade offered inspiration and information Thursday night on efforts to restore voting rights to returning citizens and other disenfranchised groups, noting suppression requires an aggressive response.
President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Meade shared his personal experience and the impact of regaining his right to vote. He characterized voting as affirming and life-changing for people who have been disenfranchised.
Find a link to a recording of the presentation here.
Meade strongly advocated for organized outreach to register all potentially eligible voters in communities, rather than just focusing on returning citizens. He said FRRC is equipped to assist any returning citizen identified through these drives with regaining voting rights by providing legal assistance, and help with paying outstanding fines and related expenses. FRRC accepts tax-deductible donations to a dedicated fines & fees fund to aid in this effort.
He also offered advice on bridging the partisan political divide, and holding elected officials accountable for their actions.
Meade led efforts to create and pass Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that provides for the automatic restoration of voting rights for people convicted of a felony after serving their sentences, including parole and probation. The measure passed with 65% voter approval in 2018, making 1.4 million returning citizens eligible to vote. Subsequent legislation adopted by the Florida Legislature and signed by the Governor created significant barriers to implementation of the amendment by requiring payment of outstanding fees and fines associated with their sentences prior to regaining their voting rights.
The virtual presentation was co-hosted by BAM, the League of Women Voters - Jax/First Coast, the Beaches Democratic Club, Jax NOW, and Indivisible Mandarin.