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MTV, VH1, Comedy Central unite to pay fees, fines to help formerly incarcerated Floridians vote

MTV, Comedy Central and VH1 announced they will be making a joint $250,000 donation to pay off fines, fees and restitution in an effort to increase voter access for young people in Florida.

The announcement is a response to a Florida law that requires payment of fines, fees and restitution before voting in the Sunshine State. 

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 6-4 ruling last week upheld the law, which requires that former felons pay off outstanding court fees before having voting rights restored.

“This announcement is a continuation of our legacy in both increasing voter access for young people, and also our continuing commitment to racial justice,” said Erika Soto Lamb, vice president of social impact for ViacomCBS, told WLRN-FM in Miami on Friday.

“The fines can range anywhere from $200 to more than $1,000. We have estimated that at least 1,250 people will be able to vote this year because of the contribution that we’re making,” Soto Lamb added.

The donation will be made to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a nonprofit organization that aims to help pay costs related to felony cases.

Current NBA star Lebron James has donated $100,000 to the organization, as has NBA legend Michael Jordan, who donated $500,000.

“We need the money. That’s the bottom line,” said Angel Sanchez of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. “We’re absolutely excited whenever major players join in these efforts. It actually inspires many other folks to also want to join in.”

“The vote is being held hostage with poor folks, to see if you can get friends and family to pay this off,” Sanchez added. “And what we’re saying is that look: People’s vote matters so much that we’re gonna get friends, we’re gonna get family, we’re gonna get celebrities — we’re gonna get everyone we can to pay them off.”

The voter registration deadline in Florida is Oct. 5.

Florida is a critical state in the 2020 presidential race, with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holding a slim 1.2-point there lead over President Trump in the RealClearPolitics index of polls

Tags Comedy Central Donald Trump Florida Joe Biden MTV VH1 voting rights

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