Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick is partnering with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition in an effort to restore voting rights for people who were previously convicted of felonies in the state of Florida.
Vick and FRRC Executive Director Desmond Meade combined to write an article on the subject for BET.com and declared Sept. 19 VoteTeenth. The goal of VoteTeenth is to raise awareness regarding Florida voting rights and to help raise money in an effort to pay fines and fees for those who want to vote.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that people in Florida with past felony convictions must pay fines and fees before being allowed to register to vote, which leaves 1.4 million Florida residents in voting limbo if they can't afford to pay.
In 2018, Florida voters passed an amendment to the state constitution which restored voting rights to approximately 1.4 million formerly incarcerated individuals. However, shortly after, legislators in Florida passed a law that required those with past felony convictions to pay all fines, fees and costs associated with their court cases before being allowed to register to vote.
Vick is the latest high-profile athlete to fight for voting rights, as Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James recently co-founded More Than A Vote, which is working to combat voter suppression in Black communities and has also partnered with the FRRC to restore voting rights in Florida.
Like James, Vick has a great deal of influence as a result of enjoying a successful career in professional sports.
The 40-year-old Vick was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft and spent 13 years in the league from 2001-15 with the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Vick was a four-time Pro Bowler, and he also won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2010 as a member of the Eagles.
That Comeback Player of the Year award came after Vick missed two full NFL seasons while incarcerated on felony dogfighting charges, meaning he knows firsthand some of the challenges those with felony convictions can face when they are released from prison.
Vick is putting that knowledge to good use and is now on the front line with several other athletes who are looking to help more people get registered to vote prior to the United States presidential election in November.