Latrice Royale Reflects On Restoration of Voting Rights

Florida restores voting rights to more than 1 million former felons.

Latrice Royale's week is anything but a drag.

Today, it was revealed the RuPaul's Drag Race alum will star on season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race All Star. And on Tuesday (November 6), the "large and in charge" performer regained the right to vote when Florida residents voted to restore voting rights to felons.

When he was 30, Royale, born Timothy Wilcots, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2001 for carrying marijuana and Klonopin, a tranquilizer commonly used to treat panic attacks. Carrying Klonopin without a prescription is a felony in the Sunshine State. Five years later, Wilcots was arrested for missing a probation meeting. He was imprisoned for a year until 2007. In that time, not only did he lose his mother, but also his right to vote.

In most states, felons lose the right to vote until the completion of their sentence, but Florida had a lifetime ban.

When Floridians voted "yes" on Amendment 4, 1.4 million people in Florida had their voting rights reinstated, including Latrice Royale.

"It's been unfair," Royale tells NewNowNext. "People say after you pay your debt, you can go back and become a productive member of society, but none of that happens. No one helps you get back on your feet, and now you can vote."

Royale believes certain crimes carry different weight and the consequences should be applied more fairly.

"I'm a nonviolent offender, not a child molester, or a pedophile. I wasn't standing in front of schools targetting kids," the performer says. "I didn't even know I couldn't have a prescription in my possession that wasn't mine...and now I don't get to vote. That's not fair."

The 46-year-old entertainer says he hopes voters and elected officials will continue to educate themselves on criminal justice reform and although he hates mixing politics and drag, he'll continue lending his voice if it'll help drive change.

"What people need to understand is that we're not all hardened or career criminals," Royale says. "I completed my sentencing, paid my debt to society, completed by parole, I'm doing better than I ever imagined I would, I'm inspiring people, and up until this week, I still couldn't vote. I hope the people who have their voting rights restored exercise them and I hope activists, politicians, and all citizens educate themselves on this issue."

A 2016 report found Florida had the highest total (1,686,318) and per capita (10.43%) disenfranchised population of all U.S. states, with an estimated 23.3% of black voters in Florida unable to vote because of felony disenfranchisement.

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