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Desmond Meade’s Organization Is Restoring Voting Rights To The Formerly Incarcerated In Florida

Activists enlist athletes and entertainers to raise $25 million to pay outstanding court fines and fees for people who were once imprisoned.

Recently, Michael Bloomberg grabbed headlines for donating millions of dollars to help restore voting rights to Florida’s men and women who were formerly incarcerated for felonious crimes. However, he isn’t the only one supporting the controversial initiative in the state.

Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition spoke with TMZ on Tuesday (October 6), stating that his organization has raised $25 million to allow the formerly incarcerated to vote in this year’s election. And that the effort was met before the former New York governor donated anything.

Bloomberg received praise for donating $16 million to pay the court fines and fees necessary for Florida’s formerly incarcerated to vote. While noting the tremendous effort, Meade contends that his group is more grassroots, raising the money through 88,000 donors, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Ariana Grande.

RELATED: Michael Vick And Desmond Meade Wants Florida Citizens Returning From Incarceration To Know They Have Voting Rights, Too

According to Meade, the problem with Bloomberg’s name being attached to voting rights restoration is that there also is political spin that comes with it.

He believes that those who benefit from the relief should not feel pressured when heading to the polls to vote for one particular party or candidate. Meade further wants those supporting the initiative to be cautious about making people feel beholden to the politics of who paid off their debt.

“We have had an outpouring of love to actually free the vote here in Florida,” Meade says. “The problem is when you hear the stories that, ‘Oh! Bloomberg has raised this money.’ Now, it becomes political and overshadows the amazing work we’ve been engaged in for over a year.”

He continues by noting that the work that they have been doing  brings “people together from all walks of life, all political persuasions, to actually move major issues and to respond to the needs of American citizens.” 

2020 is the first time the formerly incarcerated can vote in Florida, thanks to the passage of Amendment 4 in 2018 that gives them the right if they’re able to pay off any fines or fees related to the crime they’ve been convicted of.

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