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Voting Rights Rally Led By Rev. Al Sharpton Draws Hundreds To Capitol Lawn

Ryan Dailey

As an appellate court reviews an appeal by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet in the battle for a new rights restoration scheme for felons, protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday. Civil rights leaders urged support for a citizens’ initiative amendment on the ballot in November.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, flanked by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and local government and faith leaders, got a crowd of hundreds fired up to vote on Amendment Four in November. The rally came less than 24 hours after a federal appeals court granted the state’s Clemency Board a stay on a lower court’s injunction declaring its restoration system unconstitutional. 

Sharpton echoed Florida’s gubernatorial candidates in saying the move is an attempt at voter suppression by Gov. Scott, who announced a U.S. senate run this month.

Hundreds gathered for a voting rights rally at Florida's Capitol April 26, 2018

“Y’all got all these elections going around in Florida, telling me the governor wants to be a senator and all that,” Sharpton said. “Why are you afraid, Governor Scott, of more folk being allowed to vote?”

Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum also threw his support behind the amendment.

“We have a chance, November, 6, to restore that right, that opportunity and dignity for all Floridians,” Gillum said.

Nearly 1.5 million people in Florida are considered disenfranchised, having lost their rights after serving time for a felony conviction.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.