FORT MYERS, Fla. — People here in southwest Florida are celebrating their right to vote after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition paid their way into the polling place for the next election.
The event happened Saturday afternoon at Mt. Zion AME church in Fort Myers.
"Well we're doing two things, we're signing people up for our fines and fees program, and were also giving receipts to people who have had their fines and fees paid," says Neil Volz, Deputy Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
The Coalition has paid over $600,000 to the Lee County court system. Their dollars have helped people like Anthony Price overcome the past fines and that would have kept him from voting in the future.
"Well, everything was taken care of and I didn’t even know! I got blessed," says Price.
Florida law states that a felon who completes a sentence can vote, as long as you also fulfill any monetary obligation associated with the sentence.
"You gotta think about the people who sacrificed for this opportunity. You know, our ancestors, blood sweat, and tears, you know? I mean I’m here to stand up in the paint and do my part," says Price.
The coalition also opposes the latest bill passed by the Florida State senate. The Bill adds more voter ID requirements and requires drop-off ballot boxes to be monitored. Proponents say the measures are meant to reduce voter fraud, but the Coalition disagrees.
"We saw the senate passed a bill that made it harder for people in our state to vote, so our response to that? Take the bus out all across the state! Every week and every month, get people registered, get people plugged in. We believe the best way to respond to restrictions on voting is to get more people registered and get people more plugged in so we can have a more vibrant democracy across the state," says Volz.