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TUESDAY October 20, 2020: 'GAME Changer Or Not?' by ZUMA Press multiple pulitzer award winning Newspaper: The Tampa Bay Times photo-journalists Ivy Ceballo, Martha Asencio Rhine, Dirk Shadd, John Pendygraft. In 2018 Florida Amendment 4 restored voting rights to as many as 1.4 million former lawbreakers who had completed their sentences, but then things got complicated. Nearly two years after the landmark constitutional amendment allowing felons to vote, was passed, the state officials don't know how many have registered. They also don't know how many convicts on the voter rolls owe court fees, fines or restitution that would disqualify them from voting under a subsequent state law that limited the amendment's scope. Welcome to: 'GAME Changer Or Not?'
© zReportage.com Story of the Week #758: TUESDAY October 20, 2020: 'GAME Changer Or Not?' by ZUMA Press multiple pulitzer award winning Newspaper: The Tampa Bay Times photo-journalists Ivy Ceballo, Martha Asencio Rhine, Dirk Shadd, John Pendygraft. In 2018 Florida Amendment 4 restored voting rights to as many as 1.4 million former lawbreakers who had completed their sentences, but then things got complicated. Nearly two years after the landmark constitutional amendment allowing felons to vote, was passed, the state officials don't know how many have registered. They also don't know how many convicts on the voter rolls owe court fees, fines or restitution that would disqualify them from voting under a subsequent state law that limited the amendment's scope. Welcome to: 'GAME Changer Or Not?'
MARQ MITCHELL, executive director of Chainless Change, a nonprofit dedicated to creating second chances for disenfranchised people finding their footing after incarceration. Mitchell himself lost his civil rights after being charged as an adult for escaping juvenile detention before he was 18 years old. Now 30, he voted for the first time in March in the Florida primaries.
© Martha Asencio Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
SHEILA SINGLETON, 58, at the Duval County Courthouse. Singleton learned that she owed restitution after a felony conviction, which invalidates her vote even after Amendment 4 was passed in the state. 'I endured a lot and that's what made me who I am today,' Singleton said. 'I care about people just like I care about my family and I know there's work out here to be done.' She and three other founders started the Harriet Tubman Women's Auxiliary to be 'change agents' within the Black community.
© Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
EUGENE WILLIAMS reacts after being told he can now register to vote. 'I'm shaking right now,' Williams said when asked how he feels. 'You have no idea.' At the first-ever Voting Rights Docket to restore voting rights for 10 felons at the Edgecomb Courthouse in Tampa.
© Martha Asencio Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
ROSEMARY MCCOY, 63, outside the Duval County Courthouse. After gathering signatures to get Amendment 4 on the ballot McCoy is one of 17 felons suing the state due to the clause. 'If people understood the truth about what's going on then they could be free,' McCoy said. 'Most of us are still in bondage. We are living in captivity in 2020, and when we can't vote you are definitely in captivity because you don't have a voice, you're not saying anything so only slaves were the ones that didn't have a voice you couldn't vote so they put us back into that same type of mentality.'
© Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
MASON DAVIS, 6, reads a book for his grandmother ROSEMARY MCCOY, 63, inside his family's Jacksonville apartment. McCoy, 63, was released from prison in 2016 after serving seven months on theft and racketeering convictions. She helped gather enough signatures for Amendment 4 to appear on the ballot. After it passed, she used it to register to vote. But she won't be casting a ballot Nov. 3 because she owes more than $7,800 in restitution. She is one of 17 felons who sued the state and the governor last year over the restriction.
© Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
STEVEN DEANE, 33, poses with his voter registration card in Sims Park. Deane, 33, who had been convicted on theft and fraud charges stemming from substance abuse, said regaining his right to vote was a pivotal moment in his life. He registered June 2, and voted in a county election. ''They sent me a presidential ballot the other day, but I didn't fill it out,'' he said. The recently passed Amendment 4 law hampers masses of felons ability to vote because of unpaid court fees. Often, the courts don't even know what fines are owed which adds confusion and anxiety to people who are trying to exercise their first amendment right.
© John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
State Sen. JEFF BRANDES, a St. Petersburg Republican who helped write the law restricting Amendment 4's impact, said he had hoped that more people would register. 'I think engaged citizens are good for the republic' he said. But he defended the law, saying legislators were simply following the language of Amendment 4, which required felons to complete 'all terms.' of their sentences before voting. 'All terms' includes all terms,' he said.
© Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
Florida Rights Restoration Coalition leaders, DESMOND MEADE (L) and NEIL VOLZ, arrive at the Hillsborough County Courthouse for a press conference to discuss how the Fines and Fees program will help returning citizens and the surrounding community. The bus plans to travel to every county in the state of Florida and talk to community members about what it means to vote, why it is important to vote and what Amendment 4 has meant since it was passed in 2018.
© Martha Asencio Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
DESMOND MEADE, executive director of The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) speaks during a press conference on how the Fines and Fees program will help returning citizens and the surrounding community, in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse. A convicted felon three decades ago, Meade has since graduated from law school, made it onto Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people and was at the forefront of a successful crusade to restore voting rights to convicted felons in Florida.
© Martha Asencio Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
SHEILA SINGLETON, 58, (left) and ROSEMARY MCCOY, 63, outside the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville. McCoy helped Singleton learn that she owed restitution after a felony conviction, which invalidates her vote even after Amendment 4 was passed in the state. After gathering signatures to get Amendment 4 on the ballot McCoy is one of 17 felons suing the state due to the clause. They started the Harriet Tubman Women's Auxiliary with two other founders to be ''change agents'' within the Black community.
© Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Wire
Martha Asencio

My love of photography was born along with my first son, who I couldn't stop making pictures of with newly-available digital cameras, five megapixels top. I transitioned to making pictures of all my family, other families, a small wedding here or there. But the pros I admired were working in photojournalism and it was those types of photos I wanted to make. I went back to school in 2014 and got a degree in journalism. Now I'm thrilled to be the rookie photographer on the multimedia team for my hometown paper The Tampa Bay Times. I live in St. Petersburg with my husband, two sons and two geckos. Besides photography I love to dance, spend time outdoors and read novels.:758



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