As children played nearby in bounce houses and a DJ spun celebratory records, civic-minded felons in Miami Gardens exercised their newly restored voting rights Saturday during a voter registration drive organized by city officials following the passage of constitutional Amendment Four.
Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who danced along to the music and enjoyed the food offerings, said the event was about bringing his community together and welcoming those citizens who for too long could not make their voices heard through elections.
“It’s the idea of community,” he said. “I want everyone to come register, come with your kids, have fun, be engaged.”
By 1 p.m., about 20 felons had registered to vote at the event, which was hosted at Miami Carol City Park, and many more were expected to follow. One such voter was Marolin Trotter, 61, a Liberty City resident who last voted in the 1996 presidential election for Bill Clinton.
Trotter said she had applied about eight years ago to regain her rights through the state’s clemency board, which is made up of the governor and his Cabinet, but her petition was never reviewed. The clemency process, which had experienced a backlog thousands of cases long, had previously been ex-convicts’ only recourse to regain their voting rights.
“I’m so blessed to be able to know that my vote really counts now,” she said moments after thanking Mayor Gilbert and posing for a photograph. “I’m just overwhelmed. I can’t wait to get my voter registration card in the mail.”