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Rosemary McCoy, a black woman, is wearing a colorful gold, red and green dashiki and matching headdress

Rosemary McCoy, 61, a former real estate professional, lost her right to vote when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7066. Photo: Claire Goforth

By Claire Goforth

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ten years ago, Rosemary McCoy never would have imagined that today she’d be in a Jacksonville library, tears streaming down her face, as she tells a stranger how it feels to be disenfranchised.

Then she was a real estate professional with two decades’ experience, a wife, mother of two, an average, everyday citizen living a good life.

Today she scrapes by on meager wages earned collecting petition signatures. Thanks to felony convictions in 2015 on charges associated with renting homes without authorization, the 61-year-old’s former life is long gone. So are her voting rights.

Editor’s note: The Center for Public Integrity tracked political advertising in races for the U.S. Senatestate-level offices and state ballot measures. Use these three interactive features to see who was calling the shots and where the money was spent. 

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

By Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity

Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day.

In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of unofficial election results and preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.

But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything.