Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that 20 criminals have been arrested after they allegedly illegally voted in the state’s elections.
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“The state of Florida has charged and is in the process of arresting 20 individuals across the state for voter fraud,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
DeSantis and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified the charged individuals as convicted murderers and sex offenders who voted without receiving restoration of voting rights from the governor.
A 2018 ballot amendment restored the voting rights of Florida felons who serve their sentences. However, an exception was made for any individual convicted of murder or any felony sexual offense. Those criminals are subject to a decision by the governor and cabinet to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.
“This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation,” a part of the amendment reads. “The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.”
“All 20 of these individuals were disqualified from voting after they were convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, but they chose to vote anyway, and now they have all been charged with voter fraud — a third-degree felony punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison,” a statement from DeSantis’ office read.
A majority of the alleged illegal votes were from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to the governor, who did not specify whether the charges are exclusively from the 2020 election or from state and local elections in the years after.
DeSantis touted his administration’s commitment to election integrity, pointing to the charges as a warning to anyone who would exploit the system.
“In 2020, Florida ran an efficient, transparent election that avoided the major problems we saw in other states. At the same time, the election was not perfect, which is why we continue our efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections,” DeSantis said in the statement. “Our new election crimes office has sprung into action to hold individuals accountable for voter fraud. Today’s actions send a clear signal to those who are thinking about ballot harvesting or fraudulently voting. If you commit an elections crime, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”