Two years after Floridians voted overwhelmingly for Amendment 4, a landmark ballot measure that restored the franchise for up to 1.4 million people with serious felony convictions, many former felons who could register as voters have not even tried, in part because of perceptions that the hurdles are still too great, according to many of the organizers. They were rushing over the weekend to help the new pool of potential voters make the registration cutoff for casting ballots in the November election.
Over the past month, Mr. Melton’s team from the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has raced to canvass neighborhoods across the state with high populations of former felons, asking people at homes, flea markets and strip malls if they or someone they know has a criminal record and wants to learn more about their eligibility.
“Most of the people walking down the streets are like, ‘No, man, I can’t vote — I don’t have my rights back,’” said David Lester, 26, one of the organizers, who stood in a huddle with Mr. Melton and a half-dozen others to talk about their work.
“It’s like they’re stuck in a mind frame of what they were told in prison,” added Camille Sharpe, 36, another organizer.