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Committee backing voting restoration amendment raises $1.1M in November

The committee backing a 2018 ballot initiative that would automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent Florida felons brought in more than $1.1 million in contributions in November.

November’s $1.16 million haul marked the best fundraising month yet for Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which headed into December with $562,134 on hand.

The vast majority of the money came in from Laurie Michaels, a Fort Worth, Texas, psychologist and philanthropist who founded Open Road Alliance, a fund that that provides grants and loans to fill a market demand for fast, flexible contingency funding in philanthropy.

Also on the donor roll were Washington, D.C.-based political committee New Approach PAC, Atherton, California, Retiree Liz Simon and Massachusetts-based Gamechanger. Each of the three chipped in $100,000.

Expenses for the political committee came out to $800,000 for November, with $712,385 of that sum heading to Calabassas, Calif.-based PCI Consultants, a firm that gathers petition signatures for ballot initiatives.

The rest of the money was split up between business services and payments to county supervisors of elections for petition signature verification fees.

The initiative would restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. Certain felons, such as those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would not be eligible for automatic restoration.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Florida Division of Elections showed the ballot imitative had 495,455 valid signatures.

To make the ballot, initiatives need signatures equal to 8 percent of the voter turnout in the most recent presidential election. That equals 766,200 signatures for initiatives aiming for the 2018 ballot, which is a significant jump from the 683,149 needed to make the cut in 2016.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy’s Chair Desmond Meade told Florida Politics two weeks ago that the committee has gathered more than 900,000 signatures.

“Knowing that we set the goal of collecting 1 million, the fact that we are less than 100,000 petitions away from our goal is an amazing attestation to the growing energy, excitement, and support around second chances,” he said.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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