Tens of thousands of ex-offenders in Florida can vote in this election. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says they raised $ 27 million and restored the voting rights of nearly 40,000 people.
Michael Jalazo of People Empowering and Restoring Communities said that voting former offenders benefits everyone.
"These are people," Jalazo told Bay News 9. "They have paid their debts to society. We want to give people second chances, and it is better for you if we give people second chances. That is certainly im Hearts matter, but when someone has the ability to make a living, pay rent and bills, and become a taxpayer, it is better for our community. "
Scott Williams was released from a Florida prison in August, finding that a network of agencies in his community were ready to help people in his situation. Now he spends his days informing voters about amendments.
“The Bay Area, they rose. Anything I didn't know or learn in prison, they didn't ask questions when I got out, "Williams told Bay News 9." They see I needed the help, they grabbed me and said, "Come on. You want to do the right thing. We will help you. "
Sarah Nelson, an attorney at Gulfcoast Legal, helped Williams and others like him figure out what fines or fees they owe and whether they were eligible to vote.
"We can contact the relevant court clerk," Nelson told the news agency. “We figure out how much they still owe in fees or fines related to the criminal complaint themselves, and then we see if they are able to set up a payment plan, whether they are employed, or if they are able will be employed. "
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According to the Tampa Bay Times, more than 30,000 offenders have signed up to vote since 2018. Last month, an appeals court ruled that offenders must pay all fines and fees before they can legally cast their votes.
In September, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised over $ 16 million to pay the fines and fees for former detainees who are scheduled to vote in Florida.