Voting rights restored for 31 felons in Hillsborough County

A group of 31 citizens returning to the general population got some help Friday in their quest to restore their voting rights.

Soon, Ronnie Reddish, of Tampa will be able to do cast a ballot - for the very first time in his life.

“It is something I wanted to do all my life,” said Reddish. “I value voting as very important. Politicians runs everything, our whole life, and everyone should be involved that’s not involved.”

He was stripped of that right when he was convicted years ago of crimes related to drugs and burglary.  

Legal experts were on hand to help felons finalize paperwork to restore their voting rights

Since voters passed Amendment 4 last year, felons in Florida have a path to restore their voting rights when their sentences are complete. For many felons, that includes paying court costs, fees, and fines, which is financially impossible for some.

That's were Clerk of Court Pat Frank comes in, along with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Her office reduced the fines and fees owed by the group of 31 by 40% and the FRRC paid the rest, almost $33,000. 

“They can run in elections, they can vote in elections, and they will truly be 100% citizens of America,” said Clerk of the Court Pat Frank.

It all brings a smile to Cecilia Washington's face.

“I can’t wait 'till I can be able to register because I’m running to the polls,” she said.

Several similar events were held around Florida, allowing about 200 felons to have their voting rights restored.