Well-known Jacksonville community activist voting for the first time

70-year-old leader of Northside Coalition among those whose rights were restored by Amendment 4

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While millions of Americans have already voted early, many others are sticking to tradition and will cast their ballots in-person on Election Day. For some, it’s their first time voting in a presidential election.

Ben Frazier has been a vocal advocate with the Jacksonville-based Northside Coalition for years, spearheading numerous causes. These include the push to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces and the passage of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to Florida’s former felons.

Through that latter victory, at 70 years young, Ben Frazier is casting his ballot for president for the first time.

“Since the passage of Amendment 4, I felt a tremendous energizing power that it was now my time,” Frazier said.

His time, and for many others as well. Frazier is one of the many former felons now able to vote in the Sunshine State. Frazier regrets not voting years ago before trouble with the law took his rights away.

“My favorite euphemism is, ‘I was out to lunch.' So, I was out to lunch for a large part of my life,” Frazier said. “Now, I’m back at the table, and it’s good to be part of this process.”

As he embarks on this new chapter, Frazier looks to the sacrifice made by others before him, like civil rights leaders Harry T. Moore and John Lewis.

“It’s just the history of the moment that just encompasses my entire being,” Frazier said. “I see all those people marching.”

Frazier hopes by sharing his story, people at home will hear his message and not hesitate to make their voice heard.

“There are a number of people out there who have never voted,” Frazier said. “I am hopeful that there are those who will utilize this opportunity and this election to do something that they’ve never done before.”

This past weekend, the Northside Coalition held a voting rally to inspire and motivate others, including first-time voters.

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