Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 to Florida: Let People Exercise Their Voting Rights

By Leon Kaye
Oct 7, 2020 3:45 PM ET

In the 2018 election, Florida voters by almost a 30-point margin approved Amendment 4, which reinstated voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million Sunshine State residents who had past felony convictions. The state’s legislature and governor, however, soon responded by passing a law that required those same residents to pay any outstanding fines, fees and other financial penalties before they could vote again. So much for the message saying one can move on after paying his or her debt to society.

Professional athletes including LeBron James have partnered with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), which established a “fines and fees” fund to help Floridians pay off any such debts. At last count, the organization says it has received $20 million in the effort to restore those residents’ voting rights. In addition to these athletes, Michael Bloomberg has also pledged funds, which in turn has inspired a lawsuit filed to halt that effort.

Among the companies contributing to this campaign is the ViacomCBS portfolio of entertainment brands, more specifically the popular cable channels Comedy Central, MTV and VH1. The channels recently donated $250,000 to the FRCC. That pledge came through last month on National Black Voter Day (September 18), the same day another ViacomCBS media company, BET, partnered with groups including the National Urban League to shine light on the challenges Black Americans across the U.S. face when they seek to exercise their voting rights.

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