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Gov. DeSantis announces 20 arrests for illegal voting across Florida

 Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and press inside a Broward Courtroom. DeSantis announnced the arrests f 20 people for illegally voting while surrounded by Election Crimes and Security Office Director Peter Antonacci, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Secretary of State Cord Byrd, and Mark Glass, acting commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Gerard Albert III
/
WLRN
Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and press inside a Broward Courtroom. DeSantis announnced the arrests f 20 people for illegally voting while surrounded by Election Crimes and Security Office Director Peter Antonacci, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Secretary of State Cord Byrd, and Mark Glass, acting commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The felons were previously charged with murder or sexual assault, according to the governor. As such, Amendment Four does not apply to them and they are not allowed to vote under Florida law,.

Governor Ron DeSantis today announced that 20 people in Florida have been charged with voting illegally in the 2020 election.

He said they were previously convicted of murder or felony sex crimes and therefore are not allowed to vote. Florida voters passed Amendment Four in 2018, allowing some people with past felony convictions to vote.

"They are disqualified from voting because they have been convicted of either murder or sexual assault and they do not have the right to vote. They have been disenfranchised under Florida law," he said to a large group of supporters in the Broward County courtroom.

"They did not go through any process. They did not get their rights restored and yet they went ahead and voted anyway."

Many of the 20 were from South Florida, but the group also includes people from the Tampa and Orlando areas.

DeSantis made the announcement alongside the new Election Crimes and Security Office Director Peter Antonacci, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Mark Glass, the acting commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Glass said FDLE agents started making arrests early Thursday morning, “with arrest warrants in hand.”

“Today is about our honest, hardworking and law-abiding Floridians, and our message to you is simple: in Florida, your vote counts,” he added.

Antonacci, the former Supervisor of Elections for Broward County, was chosen by DeSantis in July to head a new elections investigation office.

Both said they expected more charges against people who illegally voted to come out in the future.

“So this is the first step of it, you'll see more of these actions. And you'll see more of these actions until the people who are behind it, quit promoting it,” Antonacci said, not specifying which groups he was speaking about.

“And the people that want to take risks know that there is a downside risk to voting when you're not eligible to vote.“

Florida Rights Restoration Committee led Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment campaign that restored voting rights for 1.4 million
people with felony convictions in Florida in 2018

Desmond Meade, the groups executive director, sent out a statement after the arrests saying that amendment 4 is clear on who is ineligible to vote, and that when someone registers to vote, "it is the responsibility of the state to determine an individual’s eligibility prior to issuing a voter identification card."

She said the FRRC is pushing for the state to invest as much energy on the front end of the election process as the back end of the process.

"Currently, the state has no statewide database or one-stop system in place to give returning citizens assurances about their voting eligibility and/or flag those who attempt to register to vote by a genuine mistake before penalties are handed down.

Until there is a system in place to assure voter eligibility, we
will continue to work with state leaders to improve the system. We believe that anyone who wants to participate in democracy and genuinely believes that they are eligible should not be punished because of the state’s confusing voter system. If Floridians can not rely on the government to verify their eligibility, who can they rely on?"

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Gerard Albert III
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