During the 2018 midterm elections, Florida voted to pass Amendment 4 which restored the voting rights of 1.4 million Floridians with felony records. Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Desmond Meade led the charge for its passage. The constitutional amendment “was the largest expansion of voting rights in a half-century, and Desmond made it happen,” Stacey Abrams wrote in her TIME 100 tribute to Meade.
Having served time in prison, Meade was unable to vote — including for his own wife, Sheena Meade, when she ran for state legislature in 2016 (she lost the race). At the time, he was one of more than 6 million Americans disenfranchised because of felony convictions. With his grassroots organization Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Meade has fought for the re-enfranchisement of Floridians with felony convictions and continues his efforts as new challenges arise for the recently enfranchised voters.
After Amendment 4 passed in November, Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature introduced a bill that would require individuals with felony records to pay back all court fines and fees before they can register to vote. The Florida House passed the bill on April 24. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had tweeted that the measure is a “poll tax,” and supporters of Amendment 4 expressed serious concern that the newly restored voting rights will be limited as lawmakers add adjustments to their implementation. “I’ve worked tirelessly to re-enfranchise Floridians with felony convictions,” Meade says. “Now we’ll work tirelessly once again to register over 1.4 million newly enfranchised voters.”
Meade will take over TIME’s Reddit account and answer your questions this Friday in a Reddit Ask Me Anything. The AMA will take place from 1:30 p.m. ET to 2:30 p.m. ET in the subreddit r/politics.
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