Miami Dade Returning Citizens Have Hope

South Dade NAACP representatives joined a large group of interested citizens at Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights at a Voting Rights Restoration Hall on Monday, July 29th. To cut to the chase: for citizens with a Miami-Dade County felony conviction who have completed their sentences and are off probation, you may be well on your way to being able to vote in November 2020.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Executive Director (and founder) Desmond Meade and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle outlined the key roles played by Florida House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee and State Senator Jason Pizzo in drafting the legislation the Florida legislature determined was needed even after Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to pass Amendment 4 in November 2018. This new law, which required a determined effort by the legislators, says that once individuals have completed the terms of their sentence as specified in their sentencing document — not the judgment document — including paying any required restitution, they can legally register to vote.

Meade further explained that returning citizens can apply for funding from his organization to repay any fees and fines necessary that they are unable to pay. Meade emphasized that the goal of his legislation was to remove the lifetime ban on voting by ex-felons, and this law is perfectly in keeping with his determination that people like him who had completed their sentences should be able to vote.

In addition, State Attorney Fernandez Rundle stated that her office will not prosecute individuals who registered to vote between January 4, 2019 (when Amendment 4 entered into effect) and June 26, 2019 (when the governor signed the bill requiring felons to pay fines, fees, and restitution before voting), and will not prosecute individuals who apply to register to vote when they think, in good faith, that they are eligible to register to vote.

Returning citizens who need help determining their eligibility to vote should call the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition at 1-877-MY-VOTE-0 (1-877-698-6830) for FREE assistance in determining their status. FRRC will be training a team of attorneys to offer assistance free of charge to interested parties. Additional information is available online on the FRRC website at FloridaRRC.com and will be available soon on the website of the State Attorney’s Office at MiamiSAO.com

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