During its annual Thomas Paine Birthday Celebration, Florida Veterans for Common Sense awarded its ninth Thomas Paine Award to Desmond Meade for his efforts to enact Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution.
This amendment allows felons, who have completed all the requirements of their court sentence to vote except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.
The road to obtain a 2018 Constitutional Amendment in Florida was daunting.
Proponents had to collect signatures equal to at least eight per cent of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election, or almost 800,000 signatures and also had to obtain eight percent in at least fourteen of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.
Making matters vastly more challenging for passage of Amendment 4, the signatures could only be those of registered voters.
This requirement meant that none of the estimated 1.5 million people affected by the initiative could sign the petition.
The last daunting hurdle was to garner 60 per cent of the vote to pass. Desmond Meade led the charge to overcome all these hurdles as President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and Chair of Floridians for a fair Democracy.
The Amendment passed by more than two million votes.
Meade noted that the overwhelming vote for the amendment is a powerful recognition that we can all work together to expand and deepen our democracy.
Founding Father and patriot Thomas Paine said about voting: “The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”
Last year, FLVCS chose voting rights as one of six policy priorities to pursue. As veterans, we fought to protect civil rights and are proud that we supported Mr. Meade’s effort to obtain the passage of Amendment 4.
— Submitted by Gene Jones