Florida voters will soon have the chance to abolish the state’s archaic, unconstitutional civil rights restoration process

Restorative measures

Sheena Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
Sheena Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Photo by Joey Roulette

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click to enlarge Cicily Martin of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition - Photo by Joey Roulette
Photo by Joey Roulette
Cicily Martin of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

“They can walk in there and get their ballot … I can just stand in the window outside and just look and watch and hope.” – Cicily Martin

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Cicily Martin

Cicily Martin lost her right to vote before she even reached voting age. By 18 years old, the Sanford native had accumulated a slew of charges – including car theft and battery – aggravated by her addiction to crack cocaine. Martin, now 45, remembers taking her first hit of the drug at the age of 11.

"In 2008, I decided enough is enough," Martin says. She stopped using drugs and has been working to establish herself as a productive citizen. In 2011, she completed a nine-month course at Southern Technical College on business fundamentals. "That, in itself, made me feel so good that I finished something other than a jail sentence," she says. "I want to be one of the people to go in the jail house and say 'Look at me. Here's what I did.'"

Martin, now a grandmother, wants to open a skating rink and youth community center in Seminole County, where there are far fewer youth-centered programs than distractions, she finds. But the road has not been easy. She's met a lot of "no"s so far, presenting her proposal to community leaders.

"Just because I went to school and got that sheet of paper didn't mean that society was going to let me start doing things," she says.

Martin helped gather petition signatures in Sanford for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition's initiative. She remembers one woman asking her if she deserved her rights back. Now, the prospect of actually having them feels surreal.

"It's such a big thing. It's so big almost that I don't know what to do with it."


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