Miami News

Civil Right restoration of helps public safety


In November 2018, Amendment 4 was passed into Florida’s Constitution, restoring the civil right of voting of certain eligible convicted felons who completed their sentences. Prior to this amendment, Florida was one of four states that prevented felons from voting. 

Amendment 4 was passed with 5.6 million votes, and now allows 1.4 million Floridians to contribute to their community. 

After the passage of the amendment, Rundle collaborated with Public Defender Carlos Martinez, Criminal Conflict and Civil regional Counsel Eugene Zenobi, Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, Chief Judge Bertila Soto, Senator Jason Pizzo, and House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee to create a plan that would help returning citizens obtain the paperwork needed to register to vote.

The fight for the civil right began last November, when 17 people, including singer John Legend, attended a court session where Katherine Fernandez Rundle and her team aimed to demonstrate the easy process of restoring the right to vote. 

Rundle’s plan, with the support of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, establishes procedures for people who cannot afford to fulfill their financial obligations. Rundle started these efforts because she believes “the right to vote should not be conditioned on a person’s ability to pay.”

Prior to the passage of Amendment 4, the Miami-Dade Grand Jury investigated the potential effects of the amendment and restoring an individuals civil right. They found that citizens who get their civil rights restored are less likely to reoffend, which could make communities safer, save tax dollars and allow more citizen’s voices to be heard. 

Rundle and her team have made the process easy, creating online forms, including an Affidavit of Indigency, available on their website. 

Rundle began this fight on the belief that the citizen’s right to vote is the foundation of a democracy.

“It would be unconscionable to deny a person the right to vote simply because they cannot afford to pay fees and costs,” said Rundle. This is why she has created this easy process.

“Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others are all Floridians who should have a voice in how their government functions,” Rundle continues.

“Those that have completed their sentence, our returning citizens, should have the same opportunity.”

Katherine Fernandez Rundle

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