Amendment Four
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Amendment Four

What most people don’t realize is once a person
becomes a convicted felon, they lose their rights to vote, serve on a jury, hold political
office, and we don’t have a voice. Florida is one of only four states in the
country that does not allow individuals to earn their eligibility to vote again, who
have been convicted of a felony. We don’t have any standards, or regulations,
or rules. Rick Scott has been quoted saying, you know,
“We don’t have anything. I can do what I want.” And it’s something wrong with that picture,
and we need to change that. We centuries later and nothing has changed. So it’s time for a change. Currently, the Florida process is an individual
who would be eligible to vote again, has to go through basically like a clemency process. A process through which the governor and several
other officials on his cabinet have the ability to hold a hearing, ask questions, and then
pass a subjective decision on whether or not somebody should be allowed to vote again. 2010 I get a letter from the Clemency Board
saying that they’re ready to interview me. I’d done multiple things in the community. I’d been involved in two separate ministership
programs. I started a transition house for ex-convicts
getting out, and putting them back into the community. It wasn’t like I hadn’t put back into the
community, and done what I needed to do to show I was a valuable citizen. After multiple interviews and multiple stuff,
we get our date. It was sometime in 2013.That’s when I went up. And he denied me for three speeding tickets. I’m in my mid-thirties. I done something when I was in my twenties,
and instead of me being looked at as the man that I am today, I’m being looked at the man
that I was when I was in my twenties. I don’t think like I was twenty. I don’t talk like I was twenty. In my twenties, I only had an eighth grade
education. Now I have a masters degree. I’m tired of being looked at who I used to
be, and not the steps and the strides that I’ve made to what I am today. It’s really about second chances. It’s about allowing somebody like myself,
who is a good person who made some bad choices, and have paid our debt to society because
whatever the judge has ruled, we’ve done. And yet we can’t vote. Amendment Four is something that this is the
first time it’s been brought to the ballot. Individual people spent years acquiring over 1 million signatures to even get it on the ballot. Imagine the volunteer hours that have gone
into this to help people they don’t know. Because it’s such a strong and important issue. It makes Florida have to nail down to something,
where these people, disenfranchised people as myself, can get their rights back after
they’ve completed their time and they’ve done what they’re supposed to. I just want them to have an easier route than
I did. Just put yourself in they shoes. How would I feel if I was in this position
and I didn’t have a voice? And I just got to accept whatever comes my
way, and that’s something wrong with that. So it would mean everything. Not just for me, but for every other convicted felon. I think about myself as a mother, and what
I try to instill in my children. And I want my children to learn and to know
that voting is an incredible gift that we all have to be able to go, and vote in a democracy, and choose our representatives, and to choose on how issues should be represented. So what I would implore voters to know is
to really think about what we’re allowing in our state. How are we allowing decisions to be made if
we’re not allowing 1.4 million people to voice their opinion? Are we really allowing representatives to
be reflective of our communities? And reflective of the real wants of our communities? I would think not.

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