Tampa Bay area dad fighting to restore voting rights to felons in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa Bay Area dad, who is a non-violent felon, is fighting for an amendment to pass that would restore some voting rights for felons. 

"I also want to break stereotypes because I'm not what people imagine when they think of a felon,” said Brett Ramsden.

Family photos on a Tampa Bay Area beach are proof Brett Ramsden is proud of his life today.

"Not being able to vote, it's kind of ostracizes you from your community. You don't have a say in what's going on,” said Ramsden of Second Chances Florida.

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The father of 1-year-old Teagan now devotes his life to helping other opioid addicts get clean.

"I accept full responsibility for the choices that I've made in my life,” he said.

The non-violent felon who says he shoplifted for drug money has been clean for three years after graduating a faith-based, residential treatment center in Naples, Florida.

He’s one of an estimated 1.5 million Floridians who can’t vote because of felony convictions.

Amendment Four would restore voting rights for him and many others.

"It includes in the people who would benefit, lots of violent criminals. They left out murderers and rapists. But there's still a lot of violent people in the mix,” said Richard Harrison, Floridians for Sensible Voting Rights Policy.

Local attorney Richard Harrison is fighting against Amendment Four.

Critics argue it’s too broad and would replace a case-by-case clemency review process.

"If Amendment Four passes, nobody's ever going to review any felon's case ever again. Nobody gets to ask any questions,” said Harrison.

Right now Florida felons must complete their sentence before they're even considered for clemency — a backlogged process that can take years.

"There are policies being enacted right now that will have an impact on my family's life, my daughter's future and I don't have a say in that,” said Ramsden.

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