Things That Matter

Here’s How Miami Is Fighting Against The Republican Party And Allowing Former Felons To Vote

There is positive news out of Florida that may affect the lives of countless former felons when it comes to voting rights. According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade has a plan in place to help felons restore their right to vote, even if they owe restitution or other fees. The plan, which was announced Monday by the county’s top prosecutor, public defender, and clerk of courts, would create a quicker system where state judges can override some financial penalties that would otherwise stop an ex-felon’s involvement in an election.

An estimated 150,000 former felons in Miami-Dade will be able to apply to the program allowing them to vote despite Republican Governor Ron DeSantis trying to limit their involvement.

Credit: @NAACP_LDF / Twitter

The plan, also referred to as a “rocket docket”, for its speedy disposition of cases and controversies that come before it, is expected to be put in use across Florida. This will include Broward and Palm Beach counties, where for years lack of voting rights for felons played a big role in local and national elections. 

“Make no mistake, this will be rolled out in every judicial district in Florida,” Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, told the Miami Herald

If implemented, the plan could prevent a lack of sufficient money from becoming a stoppage to voting rights and would assist former felons to navigate through the courts.

“It isn’t anti-anybody. People like to paint it like that. It’s pro-people. It’s about doing something that’s right and it’s about doing what the law and the constitution say,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told CBS4. 

The plan won’t cover everyone with a felony conviction. An individual who owes restitution required as part of their sentence can’t be accepted, as well as anyone convicted outside of Miami-Dade County. A felon who is charged with murder or sex offenses can reinstate their voting rights only by petitioning Florida’s Board of Executive Clemency.

Back in November 2018, 64 percent of Floridians voted in favor of Amendment 4 that reinstated voting rights for former felons in the Sunshine State. Shortly after taking office as governor, DeSantis made threats against the amendment, despite the approval of Floridians. In order to curtail the democratic process that allowed ex-felons to regain their right to vote, the Republican-led Florida Congress, with approval from the governor’s office, added language forcing people to fully pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote.

The move to restrict those who can get their voting rights back has been called a poll tax.

Credit: @YahooNews / Twitter

By forcing ex-felons to pya fines not tied to their punishment, the Florida Republican Party is forcing more than one million voters from registering. It is a clear attack on voters rights and voting rights activists are fighting back.

The plan is a long time coming for many in Florida who have been wanting to be a part of the political process. 

Credit:@MichaelFCrowley / Twitter

Anthony Hannah is one of those ex-felons that wants to be able to have a voice in the political process in the 2020 presidential election. The Miami-Dade native told a local Florida news station that he was was sentenced to 12 years in prison for robbery and burglary back in 1992. He would appeal the case and would enter a plea without truly understanding the consequences of being classified as a habitual offender. 

After getting released in from jail in 2001, he steered clear of trouble until 2014 when he was accused of possession of marijuana. Even though Hannah wasn’t convicted of the crime, fees from the trail began to increase. The County Court put him on a payment plan and paid almost $470 in fees by 2015.  

Hannah is a perfect example of a voting system long-plagued with disadvantages, particularly when it comes to people of color in low-income communities. It was until last November, when Florida voters approved Amendment 4, allowing convicted felons who complete all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation, the right to vote, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.

There was one small detail to the amendment, state lawmakers added various fees, fines, and restitution. This went into effect back on July first.

“Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. 

Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union,  have since filed federal lawsuits with hopes to get rid of the financial requirement section of the bill.

While there are still some obstacles to overcome, this is a step in the right direction. 

Credit:@aandersonreed / Twitter

Meade has been fighting for the bill for years and sees the latest amendment as a sign of things to come. After working on the law and adding specific language, judges can “modify” a sentence by moving  fines to community service hours or even stipulating that various financial fees won’t stop a convicted felon from registering to vote. 

“Court fines should not get in the way of voting,” Broward State Attorney Michael Satz said in a statement. “We are working on a final proposal to get this done in the best and simplest way. We expect to have a finalized plan in the next few weeks.”

READ: Julián Castro Stays Strong, Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Defend Records And More In The Second Democratic Debate

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These Dancers Want To Make Sure That You Get Your Booty Straight To The Polls

Things That Matter

These Dancers Want To Make Sure That You Get Your Booty Straight To The Polls

Get Your Booty To The Poll / Facebook

These are wild times, y’all. We are facing the election of our lifetime and on the line is the rights of millions and the dignity of our nation. This means that everyone is getting mobilized and active to make sure that voters come out in full force on Nov. 3. One ad is catching everyone’s attention.

Get Your Booty To The Poll is using pole dancing to get people to do their duty and vote.

Director Angela Barnes wanted to do something that would catch everyone’s attention during the pandemic and to remind them to vote. Her idea was to get some of the best exotic dancers from Atlanta’s best gentlemen’s clubs to do a PSA about voting. After all, we have all been told several times that “sex sells.”

The ad is getting people talking.

Some people are excited to see the ad targeting a specific group of people to vote. Others are offended that women are being objected in order to make the PSA. However, one this is for sure, the 3.4 million viewers on the tweet shows that the ad is getting everyone’s attention.

The Barnes wanted to target Black southern men, specifically in Georgia.

I wrote and directed a PSA enlisting Atlanta's finest pole dancers to encourage Black voters, specifically Black male…

Posted by Angela Barnes on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

According to her Facebook post, the video is intended to make sure that Black men in the south go out and vote. One key element in the video that the director points out is the use of ballots as dollar bills on the stage. That’s right. The cast and crew used ballots in place of dollar bills to really sell the idea of getting out to the polls to vote.

Some people are not convinced that the people who are mad are really mad.

It is a very creative way to get people’s attention, especially for voting. There are voting PSAs from almost every organization targeting almost every community. This one is clearly designed with specific people in mind and it seems to be doing its job. This is the viral content voting PSAs wish to be, tbh.

Barnes and the dancers are definitely doing their part to remind you to vote so do your part and get to the polls to vote (or vote by mail-in ballot).

The U.S. is facing a tough and very important election. The Trump administration is fighting to secure another term while Democrats are doing everything in their power to stop them. Communities of color have been the target of some of the administration’s most hateful and damaging legislation.

Get ready to vote. Register your friends. Bring them to the polls. The general election is on Nov. 3 and it is up to all of us to vote to see the policies we want.

READ: As Trump Does All He Can To Sabotage Mail-In Voting, He And Melania Request Mail-In Ballots

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Florida AG Calls For Investigation Into Mike Bloomberg After He Paid Fines For Felons To Vote

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Florida AG Calls For Investigation Into Mike Bloomberg After He Paid Fines For Felons To Vote

Mike Bloomberg / Flickr

Mike Bloomberg promised during his campaign that he would help the Democratic nominee get elected. The former mayor of New York City is following through on his promise and his first focus is on Florida.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is spending money to help get Joe Biden elected.

During the 2020 campaign, Mike Bloomberg promised to spend his money and use his time to help elect the Democratic nominee. Many at the time were skeptical at the claim but Bloomberg is following through. The philanthropist and businessman is spending millions to advance his cause in Florida.

This is just the beginning of Bloomberg’s work in Florida to defeat President Trump. The New York politician has pledged to spend $100 million to help Biden win Florida. This includes ad buys and other ways to promote Biden within the Sunshine State.

Bloomberg recently raised $16 million to help get felons their right to vote back.

In 2018, Floridian voted in favor of reinstating the voting right of former felons who served their time. Governor Ron DeSantis immediately went to work stopping the voters’ choice and set up roadblocks to prevent former felons from voting. One of those roadblocks was making former felons pay all of their fines and fees before getting their right to vote back.

Bloomberg was able to raise enough money to pay off the fines and fees for 31,000 former felons in Florida. There are more than 1 million currently trying to get their right to vote back. Part of the problem with the fines and fees is that the state of Florida is not compelled to tell felons how to pay the fees nor that they have the fees.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling for an investigation.

Moody, a Republican elected in 2018, called for an investigation into Bloomberg’s donation to restore the voting rights of thousands. The investigation is designed to see if Bloomberg violated any election laws.

“Today, I sent a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into potential violations of election laws,” Moody said in a statement on Wednesday. “And I have instructed the Statewide Prosecutor to work with law enforcement and any Statewide Grand Jury that the Governor may call.”

People want Bloomberg to do the same in other states.

Bloomberg committed to helping the Democrats win the White House in 2020 because of damage created by the Trump administration. Bloomberg’s sudden involvement in Florida highlights Bloomberg’s willingness to follow up on his word. Bloomberg’s initiative helped the felons with less than $1,500 in penalty fees and had already applied for their voting rights to be restored.

Remember, your vote is your voice. Make sure you are registered to vote and get your friends registered too. Go to IWillVote.com or VoyaVotar.com and text TODOS to 30330 today to learn what choices you have to vote in your community and get information on where and when to vote.

READ: Joe Biden And President Donald Trump Are Battling It Out For Florida’s Crucial Latino Vote

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