WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — For the first time, convicted felons who served their time registered to vote on Monday.
Voters passed the new amendment last November, and more than a million people have their voting rights restored.
For David Matos this voter registration is more than a piece of paper.
“I got something back. Something that one of my decisions took away from me,” says Matos.
It’s an invitation back into society after 27 years in prison.
“You come out and you’re treated like nobody. So anything I can get to make me feel like somebody, I’m grateful for,” says Matos.
The right to vote gives him that feeling.
He says without that right he didn’t feel free after being released from prison in 2017.
“We were one of three states shamelessly disenfranchising individuals after they paid their restitution and paid their time ,” says Susan Bucher Palm Beach County’s Supervisor of Elections.
But now, a new beginning for Matos and the many other ex-felons who joined him in registering to vote today.
“Finally I’m a citizen again! Honestly without my ability to vote i no longer felt like a citizen of the United States,” says Caren Ragan, who did time for interfering with child custody.
A right that makes many of them feel whole.
“It means that now I feel like I’m part of the community like I can make my contribution as a voter,” says Anthony Evans served ten years for battery.
They embarked on their new journey thanks to 64-percent of Floridians who voted yes on Amendment 4 last November.
“People that I don’t even know helped me get it back tears. I’m grateful,” says Matos.
However, its not that easy since ex-felons can only register to vote after paying full restitution if that’s part of their sentence. Some say that may unfairly include court fees.
If you would like more information on how to register to vote as an ex-felon there is a hotline at 1-887-MY-VOTE-0