With the 2020 presidential election right around the corner, some of entertainment’s brightest stars have teamed together in an effort to restore voting rights for formerly convicted in Florida. John Legend and Camila Cabello are helping raise awareness and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to Free the Vote.
The effort would help Florida’s 700,000 previously convicted participate in the election. With the voter registration deadline looming on October 5, time is of the essence to get fines and fees paid to admit these citizens their right to vote.
John Legend and Camila Cabello launch a crowdfunding campaign to allow Florida citizens to vote with private donations from Hollywood heavyweights like Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Earlier this month, a Florida court ruled that individuals with felony convictions in Florida are required to pay off all of their fees and fines before they are allowed to vote, putting 700,000 possible voters in jeopardy. The two music stars have acted in response as Florida’s voter registration deadline is fast-approaching, with public support from Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Schumer, Kerry Washington, Uzo Aduba, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Since its Tuesday launch, the campaign has received more than 5,000 donations amounting to over $400,000.
“I am so proud to call Florida my home. It is full of unique and compassionate people from all backgrounds and lived experiences,” Cabello told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Voting is one of the most important ways Americans can make their voices heard. It is this diversity of voices and experiences that makes the state such a special place to live, and every single one of those voices — including returning citizens — deserves to be heard and counted.”
“Florida’s pay-to-vote system unjustly prevents some formerly convicted individuals from casting their ballots,” Cabello added. “This system also disproportionately impacts people of color, creating obstacles for these communities as they try to exercise their right to vote.”
In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, which ended the state’s lifetime ban on voting for former felons who completed their parole or probation terms and were not convicted of murder or sexual offenses. Legislators tried to curb the new law by imposing the fees and fines requirement, which was struck down in court, but then upheld on appeal Sept. 11.
In addition to the public campaign, Legend has also quietly helped raise more than $20 million for the cause from private donors including Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Michael Bloomberg, and LeBron James for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
Over 56,000 donations have been made to the organization, with the goal of raising $25 million.
“As our democracy is under attack by so many, including the president, a bipartisan supermajority of the people of Florida voted for Amendment 4 in order to expand democracy to returning citizens who had already served their sentences,” Legend said in a statement.
“Reaching this [$20 million] milestone means more Floridians will be able to help chart the direction of this nation’s future. While historians may look back at this moment and criticize the courts for allowing a pay-to-vote system, I hope they will also tell the story of how people across the country came together to extend and protect our democracy.”
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We’re so happy to see these celebs using their platforms to help make our democracy more representative of the people who constitute it.