I met Montrell as I was canvassing the streets of Downtown Orlando on a Sunday afternoon with our partner organizations, Bring It Home Florida and Global Shapers. I handed him a flyer and he asked for more information on VoteRiders.
After hearing about our voter ID services, Montrell shared that he was eager to vote but his license had been suspended. Although we couldn't assist with driving suspension fines, I let Montrell know VoteRiders was able to cover the cost of his driver's license. His face lit up.
Almost two months later Montrell texted that he was ready, and we met that afternoon at the Downtown Orlando DMV.
While we were waiting to be called, I got to learn more about Montrell. The 30-year-old Orlando native was newly eligible to vote because of Florida’s Amendment 4 that allows citizens who have completed the terms of a felony conviction to register and vote.
Montrell shared what he envisions for his community, now that he would be voting for the first time.
"I want to help change the world. I feel like every opinion counts. I think to have more programs to help the youth learn and provide them with a safe environment is important. I'm passionate about this issue because once upon a time I was the issue and once upon a time I was a child."
As we stood up to approach the DMV clerk Montrell said "I'm so nervous and excited at the same time. I can't believe it." VoteRiders covered the cost of Montrell's license reinstatement ($45.00) and driver’s license ($64.00).
"I've never voted in my life and I haven’t had a driver’s license in ten years. Now I get to vote and I get a driver's license. It feels amazing. I really feel like I have what I need to make a difference."
When I asked Montrell what he would say to others who have recently had their voting rights restored, he said "Take advantage of the opportunity because some of the things we go through as convicted felons are highly influenced by the people in office - such as having to check the box that you’re a convicted felon when applying for a job or having the right to vote."
Montrell was eager to ask how he could help someone in his own situation. He is planning to volunteer with VoteRiders in the future.