We hadn’t planned to go to the City Club luncheon on Friday, February 3rd, but less than two hours before it was scheduled to start it was announced that there would be a “snow day ticket giveaway” because three schools had to cancel their reservations due to a snow day being declared because of the ongoing snowstorm.
Therefore, we decided to take advantage of this very generous offer and thus were treated to a very fine meal and a forum titled “The Soul of Democracy” that featured Mr. Desmond Meade, President and Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, who, in 2018, led the successful campaign to restore voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million “returning” Floridians with past felony convictions.
(to read about this program or to listen to it please see https://www.cityclub.org/forums/2022/02/04/the-soul-of-democracy/)
Subsequently, Mr. Meade was named one of the 100 most influential people in the World by Time Magazine in April of 2019 and authored a book titled “Let My People Vote; My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens.”
Mr. Meade, himself a returning citizen who turned his life around and became an attorney, spoke of his own personal journey and the success of the 2018 venture that he owed to forsaking partisan politics and addressing all Florida voters regardless of their political stripe.
Along these lines, the reasoning was simply that if the returning felon was your son or daughter wouldn’t you want their them to be able to participate in the democratic process?
Moreover, Mr. Meade believes, as we do, that “we know that when we’re part of a democracy, we make it more inclusive. And when we make it more inclusive, we make our democracy more vibrant. And when we have a vibrant democracy, that’s good for everyone.”
Consistent with this message are the efforts to grant people who immigrated to the United States but not yet citizens the right to vote in municipal elections. Recently, in fact, New York City granted suffrage to legal permanent residents.
We didn’t get to ask a formal question at the City Club that day but after his presentation we spoke to Mr. Meade about this issue of noncitizen voting.
He replied that if a person is living in a community, she/he should have a say in the community.