An Urgent Note About Florida Action: 6/10/2019 - 6/30/2019
ASK: Join the on-the-ground Florida effort taking place June 10th - June 30th as we race towards a July 1st deadline to register as many Floridians who’ve recently had their voting rights restored before a law takes effect making it much more difficult for many of them. Sign up here: https://forms.gle/3EPeUSeWyKDessdA8
We have an opportunity, a defining chance to make a difference. We are writing to ask us as a community to step forward and act.
Here’s the situation: Last year, one of our most-important outcomes was that we worked to pass Amendment 4 in Florida, which restores voting rights to people formerly incarcerated for felony offenses. Since January 1 thousands of returning citizens have been regaining the right to vote, but the Republican-controlled legislature in Florida just passed a new law that will require all formerly incarcerated folks to ALSO pay all court costs/fines before they can regain the right to vote. It’s a spot-on horrible act of voter suppression. We as an org are all-in to fight these actions. The bad news is that when the law goes into effect July 1 it will become very, very difficult for hundreds of thousands of formerly incarcerated citizens with significant court costs/fines to ever regain their right to vote.
But we have a month until the law takes effect.
Our Florida partners, working with the Florida Rights and Restoration Coalition, have sent us a red-alert bulletin asking us to come and do voter-registration work before July 1. (see a snippet of one of their emails at the end of this message.) Their lawyers believe that everyone registered to vote before July 1 will *not be subject to the new must-pay-all-fees voter suppression law.* Our partners are identifying all of these returning citizens, building a voter-registration strategy that incorporates these citizens but does not uncomfortably target them, and they tell us they need every person possible to do the work. NOW. NOW. NOW.
On Friday we told our partners that we will do *everything possible* to mobilize Common Purpose volunteers to come to Florida from June 10 through June 30. Specifically, we will work in Pinellas County, which is the Tampa area, where there are at least 1600 returning citizens who are eligible to be registered to vote. We will have at least one Common Purpose leader there for every one of those dates who will be our point persons, so that every CP volunteer coming from Seattle will know where to go, with CP LEADERS making sure we are fully integrated with our partner organizations and working in the CP way to support them.
If there is any way you can be on the ground in Pinellas County between June 10 and June 30, this is a defining chance to make a difference. It’s as concrete of an action in the service of a just and inclusive democracy as we can offer. We can truly change people’s lives. And – although this is not the primary motivation for us to do this – we have every reason to believe that the progressive longterm effects on elections, including the 2020 presidency, will be real.
To pull this off may require changing plans, missing events, spending dollars that are un-planned and be a real stretch. We will need to walk through ambiguity and uncertainty as we build this on the fly. But our work in 2018 and our already-happening mobilization for 2019-20 assure us that we can do this. And indeed, this is why we do this work. Our Common Purpose leadership is fully mobilized, and we are asking you to join us. If you can’t go, please consider recruiting someone you know who might be interested, and paying their costs.
As a sign of our commitment, we will provide reimbursement costs of up to $500 for any person who signs up, if you wish.
If you are open to doing this, please sign up to join our Florida team right now. Here’s the Florida team page signup:
If we can address questions, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s go. Democracy is a verb. We need to risk and sacrifice if we’re going to bring about real change.
The CP leadership team