Today we’re talking Voting Rights. In my mind, there is no issue of greater importance in the country right now – and that’s because it affects every other issue.
As you may know, I’ve put a good chunk of time into this cause. I spent four years fighting voter suppression as Secretary of State in Missouri and I’ve spent the last year fighting it as the President of Let America Vote, an organization I founded.
It’s a broad issue because there are a lot of different pieces to it, so in the second segment of today’s show I’ll go a little deeper than usual. I’ll get into the recent history of voter suppression, the tactics of vote suppressors, and how we fight back – as well as doing what we usually do in segment two: I’ll tell you how to talk about it with friends who don’t yet agree with you.
So segment 2 will tackle the issue as a whole, but for today’s conversation with a guest, I wanted to zero in on an aspect of voter suppression I don’t think gets enough attention: disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Desmond Meade is the Founder and President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, but he’s also impacted directly by this issue, because he in years past he was addicted to drugs and spent some time in prison. He is one of the well over one million U.S. citizens living in Florida with very little hope of ever having their civil rights – including their voting rights – restored.
He has a law degree, but he can’t sit for the bar. He’s active in his community and his wife ran for the state legislature, but he can’t vote. But Desmond isn’t discouraged. He’s fighting back and he’s inspiring a lot of people, including me.