Floridians charged with voting illegally in 2020 election speak out
Five formerly incarcerated Floridians who were arrested last week on charges of illegally voting in the 2020 election say nobody told them they couldn't vote.
In interviews with the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, they said they wouldn't have voted if they knew their convictions disqualified them under a 2018 statewide referendum restoring voting rights for most felons.
Driving the news: Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced voter fraud charges against 20 Floridians, days before Florida's primary election, as part of an investigation by his new election crimes unit.
- DeSantis said those arrested were "going to pay the price" for allegedly breaking the law. The charges are third-degree felonies that can result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
The other side: Voting rights advocates say it's unfair to arrest someone for voting illegally if their local elections department didn't notify them they could not vote.
- Florida law says it's up to state elections officials to notify local elections departments if someone is ineligible to vote based on their felony record, according to the Herald.
- In Hillsborough County, where five voters were arrested, the elections department said they were only told in 2021 and early 2022 that the former felons were ineligible to vote, the Herald/Times reported.
What they're saying: Several of those arrested — which includes individuals from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — told the Herald/Times they can't afford lawyers and they fear losing their jobs if they are convicted again.
- Nathan Hart, 49, told the newspapers, "I can see charging someone if I was gathering peoples' names from the cemetery. One individual guy voting when he thought he could is hardly voter fraud."
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