Fighting To Vote: An Interview With Desmond Meade

A hand holding an "I Voted" sticker
William Anderson
August 21, 2020

Desmond Meade had been prohibited from voting for decades. But he helped lead a movement that changed his reality – and that of over a million people like him. He told us that finally voting after so long made him “very emotional.” 

But his fight isn’t done.

He helped pass Amendment 4 in Florida, which gave over a million people with prior criminal convictions the ability to vote, dismantling a Jim Crow-era law.

In response, Florida conservatives passed a modern-day “poll tax” – forcing people to pay fines before they can vote. Will that stop Meade?

No: “We're hyper focused on raising money … We've raised over $4 million already,” he told us. His organization, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, is paying people’s fines to overcome that barrier. 

Here’s why we can’t ignore what’s happening in Florida.

Florida helps decide national elections – sometimes by only a few votes. Many of these “returning voters” are Black, and their votes could be hugely important – which is why conservatives want to stop them.

But Meade still has a plan.

“I know if Amendment 4 cleared the way for 1.4 million, and 774,000 cannot vote because of fines and fees, that still leaves over 600,000,” he told us. Black Floridians are paving the way for a greater change. Everyone should be able to vote – no matter what!

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