Politics

MSNBC Gives Activist Platform To Lobby For Felon Voting Rights In Florida

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Nick Givas Media And Politics Reporter

Actor and activist Jesse Williams was given an entire segment on “MSNBC Live with Alex Witt” Sunday to make the case for allowing felons to vote in Florida.

Williams said he supports Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights for felons across the state, and said it’s wrong to deny criminals their civic voice.

“We have 1.4 million Floridians who are not allowed to vote and lost their eligibility,” he said. “There are people with felony convictions who are returning to their communities. Often these are returning citizens to over criminalized, over policed communities.

“Dealing with poverty and trying to reenter society and they’ve already served their time,” Williams continued. “They’ve already paid their dues. They’re coming back home and they don’t have that very crucial element of the so-called freedom as participants in their democracy.”

If Amendment 4 passes, it would restore voting rights to 1.5 million felons who have completed their sentences and would exclude murderers and sex crime convictions.

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Williams said barring felons from the polls is an antiquated practice and was only implemented to discriminate against minority communities and suppress voter turnout.

“It’s outrageous,” he said. “It became as I said in 1868, it was implemented … as a way to discriminate against newly freed black Americans. So we need an update here … This is not strictly race. This is about access and disfranchisement and we can use a more appropriate situation here in Florida. This is the beginning of that process.”

“This is a step towards, at least they can vote,” he added. “They already served their time again and so we’re out here — so that is an issue that your vote, 100 percent matters.”

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