MIAMI, FLORIDA — Nicole Vista can’t vote, but that isn’t stopping her from knocking on dozens of doors every week so that 1.4 million Floridians can.
Vista is a third year nursing student at Nova Southeastern University and beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program created by President Barack Obama to give work permits and temporary relief from deportation to young people who came to the United States as children.
Despite her legal status, Vista isn’t afraid to be out in the community, advocating for Amendment 4 — an initiative on the ballot in Florida this election cycle that would restore the voting rights of individuals with minor felony convictions.
“It’s hard sometimes, but DACA is always something that’s known to be temporary and with this administration you never really know what’s going to happen,” Vista tells ThinkProgress in an interview before a canvassing session Sunday afternoon. “So yeah there’s days you’re in fear but it’s important that we come together and fight for the minority members of our community and make a change.”
Vista is part of a canvassing network comprised of dozens of volunteers for United We Dream, the nation’s largest youth immigrant organization. United We Dream organizers in Miami aren’t canvassing for specific candidates or even immigration policy — the group is laser-focused on Amendment 4.
Maria Asuncion-Bilbao, an organizer for United We Dream’s Miami chapter, believes the goals of the ballot initiative overlap with the those of the undocumented community.
“We believe that [the formerly incarcerated] deserve a second chance and denying them the right to vote is a form of oppression,” Bilbao tells ThinkProgress. “For the undocumented community, we can’t vote, so we fight for those who can but are currently being oppressed.”
Bilbao is originally from Argentina and has spent the last 17 years undocumented in the United States employed as a domestic worker.
The back of her shirt reads: “Unafraid from deportation. Unafraid from incarceration. Unafraid from profiling. Unafraid to raise our voice. Unafraid to thrive together. Unafraid to live our best lives.”
After helping other volunteers set up an early voting party tent (complete with homemade empanadas and reggaeton music), Bilbao and Vista set out with clipboards to canvass in a nearby neighborhood in between Little Haiti and Liberty City. Sunday’s outing is focused primarily on “low propensity voters” — those not expected to cast a ballot during the 2018 midterm elections.
Most voters Bilbao and Vista meet with today have already heard of Amendment 4 and willingly sign a pledge promising they will vote in support of the initiative.
According to Bilbao, canvassers collect an average of 150 pledges each day.
One woman, Lilian Armstrong, is sitting outside her house with her neighbors when she tells Vista that yes, she will vote for Amendment 4. But she’s skeptical that it will actually change anything.
Her husband completed his sentence and appeared before Florida’s clemency board to have his voting rights restored nearly six years ago. He was able to vote in one election until he lost his wallet and was never sent a replacement for his voter ID card, despite repeated requests.
Whatever happens in the highly contested Senate, House, and gubernatorial races, progressives in Florida will likely clinch a significant win on Election Day when it comes to voting rights. Polling suggests Amendment 4 is predicted to pass on November 6, with nearly 74 percent of Floridians in support of the measure.