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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Samantha Bee touts push to restore felon voting rights in Florida

Last month, the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a proposed amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons was constitutional. The ruling rejuvenated the campaign to put the measure on the 2018 ballot.

"Florida voters are getting very excited about this," said Desmond Meade, an ex-offender who is leading the petition drive to restore felon voting rights in Florida. He told the Times/Herald that he'd engage churches, local activists and student groups to gather the 700,000 signatures needed.

Samantha Bee did him one better, spotlighting Meade's cause to a national audience on her late nite TBS show Full Frontal

The six-minute segment is, as typical, hilarious and devastating. Florida doesn't come across well. 

"Ever since losing the popular vote, President Trump has had his Underoos in a wad about 3 million people who voted illegally," Bee said, introducing the clip on Meade. "They don't exist. What does exist is 6 million people whose right to vote has been taken away. To learn about them, I went to Florida, where retirees and Democracy go to die."  

Meade gets some pretty good camera time. Not only does have have ample time to make his pitch ("Right now in Florida, this policy impacts over 1.6 million Floridians...It doesn't matter if it's a 1st degree (felony) or 3rd degree. You can lose your rights to life over something as simple as driving with a suspended license." [For a third offense]) but Bee's segment portrays Meade sympathetically. She mentions he was a drug offender who got out of jail in 2004 and got a college and a law degree. "Show off," Bee says. "But unfortunately, he lives in one of the only states (Iowa and Kentucky are the others) where you're banned from voting for the rest of your life." 

Those who don't look so good? Gov. Rick Scott, who is portrayed in clemency hearing footage as a callous adminstrator. 

"Clemency is, there's no standard, we can do whatever we want," Scott told one felon seeking restoration of rights. In another shot, he tells an applicant: "I congratulate you for how you've turned your life around. So I'll deny it."

"Tough call, but at least was arbitrary," Bee says.

Here's the segment, which aired last week.

 

[Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 4:49pm]

    

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