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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Florida ex-felon, new citizen vote for first time

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Florida ex-felon, new citizen vote for first time
Florida ex-felon, new citizen vote for first time

More than 8.6 million Florida residents have already cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential race, and for some of them, including new citizen Carlos Flores and ex-felon Yraida Guanipa, it was the first time they voted in a U.S. election.

This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez.

At 34-years-old, Carlos Flores, owner of an artisanal sourdough bakery in Miami, Florida, is voting in the U.S. for the first time.

Born in Mexico, Flores became a citizen in 2018.

While he is eager to vote, Flores is less enthusiastic about who he's voting for.

"Personally I don't feel super excited about Joe Biden, but it's a step, it's a step towards the right direction." Across the hotly-contested state of Florida more than 8.6 million people have already cast a ballot.

Some, for the first time.

And they include Floridians with felony convictions, such as ex-felon Yraida Guanipa -- a 58 year old activist and PH.D.

Student “After I was released from prison.

I couldn't do this, I couldn't do that." Guanipa was filled with joy after casting a ballot for the first time.

Though she won’t say who she voted for.

"The vote doesn't mean that you belong to this party or to the other party.

The vote means that you vote for the people that listen and understand your problems. Voting for me with that knowledge and with the joyful moment that I was part of it was a meaningful experience." The former felon who served 11 years after a drug conspiracy conviction, was able to register in 2018 after working with hundreds of others to get Florida to change its constitution and allow 1.4 million ex-felons a chance to vote.

There are still hurdles, however, ex-felons in Florida can only vote after paying their outstanding court costs, fees and fines.

With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to win the White House, especially for President Donald Trump.

And given how often races in Florida are decided by razor thin margins, these new voters could be enough to tilt the state and possibly the entire race toward one candidate.

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