MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade has a plan to help felons restore their right to vote, even if they owe restitution or other fees.

Dozens sat inside Second Baptist Church Monday night in Southwest Miami-Dade’s Richmond Heights neighborhood.

That’s where they learned from county and state leaders what is being done about Amendment 4 and its amended version, passed by lawmakers and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

“It isn’t anti-anybody. People like to paint it like that. It’s pro-people. It’s about doing something that’s right and it’s about doing what the law and the constitution says,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.

The state attorney for the county said restoring rights means there’s a greater chance that person won’t return to jail.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle speaks inside Second Baptist Church in Southwest Miami-Dade’s Richmond Heights neighborhood. (Source: CBS4)

There are three ways to gain the right to vote in Miami-Dade after finishing a sentence. The first is for people who have no outstanding fines or restitution. The second is for people who are on a payment plan but can’t finish it could go to court for a speedy case review. Lastly, people who haven’t paid a dime and can’t could ask a judge to restore their right in a hearing.

“Other people may see obstacles. What we see is opportunity,” Desmond Meade with Florida Rights Restoration Coalition said.

Meade has been fighting for a change in law. He told the crowd a financial requirement is not a stop sign for people who are hoping to regain their rights.

“People like me, a returning citizen, who is closest to the pain. If you don’t see me crying about it, you shouldn’t be crying about it,” Meade said.

In November, nearly 65% of voters approved Amendment 4. It was estimated to impact 1.4 million felons, not including those convicted of murder and sex crimes.

But state lawmakers added a fees, fines, and restitution. That went into effect July first. Since then, several groups have filed federal lawsuits hoping to get rid of the financial requirement.

CBS4 News has reached out to the governor’s office for reaction. We have not heard back.

Ty Russell

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