TALLAHASSEE, Fla — With the stroke of a pen, a signature is written. With that comes a new lease on life, and the ability to have her voice heard.
"I say thank you Jesus, because if it wasn't for him, because if it wasn't for him, no body but God," said Marsha Ervin. She is now registered to vote—again. Her road to becoming a voter was a rough one.
Ervin was convicted of a crime back in 2016. After serving her time she wanted to do her civic duty. She registered to vote with the guidance of an advocacy group that works with people formally incarcerated to get them re-registered.
Ervin didn't know she was not eligible to vote at the time. Even so, she was able to register, get approved and vote in two elections.
With the help of her attorney, Benjamin Crump, and the Tallahassee Chapter of the NAACP her charges were later dropped.
How did this happen in the first place?
At the time, Ervin was still under probation which automatically made her ineligible to vote. She was arrested and charged with felony voter fraud.
In 2018 a constitutional amendment was passed allowing voting rights to felons. Under the amendment, a person is eligible to register to vote if they have completed:
· Prison or jail time
· Parole or probation
· Paid all fines and fees ordered in the felony sentence
It's something election supervisor Mark Earley said wouldn't been readily known.
The NAACP said they are now working with other groups to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Earley is working the state attorney and other groups to highlight a database that will allow formally convicted people to see if they are eligible to vote and what processes they need to complete before they can vote.