Ervin’s saga from felon to registered voter

From left, County Commissioner Bill Proctor, Marsha Ervin, attorney Mutaqee Akbar, Marie Rattigan and Adner Marcelin. Photo courtesy: Jamarcus Crump

Amid the unfolding events involving Marsha Ervin, a 69-year-old resident of Tallahassee facing felony voter fraud charges, a turn of events occurred as a result of a collective outcry from various groups and advocates. This led to a display of victory as Marsha Ervin registered to vote at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday.

A crowd of supporters celebrated by singing “Victory is mine,” for Ervin as she showed the courage to go against a system that attempted to discourage her from voting.

Ervin, a member of Life Changers Church of God, credits everything working together to her God. She stayed in peace by believing “no matter what it looks like, He sees everything, and He knows everything before it happens.”

She did not expect the support she received, but believed, “When you put God first, people will rally with you, and stand behind you, and make you feel special.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump, recent recipient of the Social Justice Impact award, led the event with passion and wants everyone to know, “It was important not just for Tallahassee and not just for Florida but the victory was important for America. I think what Marsha Ervin stands for is the symbol of democracy in its purest form. One man, one vote.”

Crump uplifted college students when he said, “You are who W.E.B. Dubois was talking about. You are the ‘Talented Tenth.’ You’re going to have the jobs, the education, and the resources while 90% of our community is going to be suffering. It is incumbent upon us 10% to fight for the 90% or they won’t be saved.”

The Tallahassee branch NAACP led the movement to ensure the community was involved, “from the bottom to the top”, to ensure Ervin registered to vote, to send the message, “November is coming and we’re going to vote and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Attorney Mutaqee Akbar, president of the Tallahassee branch NAACP, arrived shortly after departing from another case to show support for Ervin. Akbar provided an interesting insight into the possible effects of the original felony charge against Ervin.

“They’re trying to intimidate Black folks, and those who say, ‘I don’t want to get investigated, get arrested, or be a part of the process, so I don’t want to vote,’” he said.

Moving forward, Akbar said, “We will not stand idle as laws and policies are put in place to keep us silent.”

Marie Rattigan, vice president of the Tallahassee branch NAACP, played a major role in getting the petitions for the charges to be dropped, circulated throughout the community. This FAMU alumna is preparing for the next election.

“We’ve got 364 days and counting before the next election, so young people, make sure you are paying attention to this and you’re getting registered and getting out to vote,” she said.

Rattigan is pushing for younger people to get involved in the NAACP.

“Get involved with your NAACP. If you need anything, reach out on my Instagram to get my number and email,” Rattigan said.

Mark Earley, Leon County Supervisor of Elections, stood up for Ervin by acknowledging the fact the form she had was not enough for her to know she wasn’t eligible at the time.

“There’s a lot of obvious problems. I think this has been demonstrated for quite a few years now,” Earley said. “There are hurdles for people to understand the status of their completion of sentencing requirements. That’s a huge problem and it leads to problems like this.”

Earley faults the electoral system and likens it to a “trap.”

“There needs to be a better system in place to allow people to understand their status or maybe the laws need to change somewhat to make it not so problematic,” he added.

Among the crowd of supporters were students enrolled in school. FAMU student Elijah Hooks, the student body attorney general, said, “It’s a great push to be able to get people out to vote.”

He said he’s hoping for a better voter turnout in this next election.