- Free the Vote is a crowdfunding campaign to restore the voting rights to the formerly convicted in Florida as the presidential election approaches.
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, music artists John Legend and Camila Cabello have launched Free the Vote, a crowdfunding campaign that aims to restore the voting right for the formerly convicted in Florida.
The music stars acted in response to the Florida court rule from earlier this month that states that convicted felons in Florida are required to pay off all fees and fines to be eligible to vote. This rule puts 700,000 possible voters at risk, particularly as the deadline to register to vote is set for October 5.
“I am so proud to call Florida my home. It is full of unique and compassionate people from all backgrounds and lived experiences,” Cabello told The Hollywood Reporter. “Voting is one of the most important ways Americans can make their voices heard. It is this diversity of voices and experiences that makes the state such a special place to live, and every single one of those voices — including returning citizens — deserves to be heard and counted.”
“Florida’s pay-to-vote system unjustly prevents some formerly convicted individuals from casting their ballots,” she added. “This system also disproportionately impacts people of color, creating obstacles for these communities as they try to exercise their right to vote.”
The campaign was launched on Tuesday with more than 5,000 donations that amount to over $400,000. Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Schumer, and Kerry Washington are among the celebrities that are showing their public support for the campaign efforts. Legend has also raised over $20 million for the same cause from private donors that include Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw and LeBron James to benefit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
In 2018, Amendment 4 was passed by Florida voters to end the state’s lifetime voting ban for former felons that completed their paroles or probation periods, and whom were not convicted of murder or sexual offenses. On September 11, 2020, the court upheld the appeal to limit the new law by imposing fees and fines for former felons before they are allowed to vote.
“As our democracy is under attack by so many, including the president, a bipartisan supermajority of the people of Florida voted for Amendment 4 in order to expand democracy to returning citizens who had already served their sentences,” said Legend in a statement. “Reaching this [$20 million] milestone means more Floridians will be able to help chart the direction of this nation’s future. While historians may look back at this moment and criticize the courts for allowing a pay-to-vote system, I hope they will also tell the story of how people across the country came together to extend and protect our democracy.”