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Coalition Willing to Cover Legal Costs for 'Frivolous' Voter Fraud Arrests

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Photo courtesy FRRC Facebook page
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FRRC: "You had a public official go into a jail and register those individuals. Checks and balances should have been incorporated to make sure that people who were registering were registering lawfully."

Orlando - Friday May 6, 2022: The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has announced the formation of a task force to defend former inmates against voter fraud charges. It follows the recent arrests 10 former felons who were registered or voted in violation of state law.

One of them is 63 year old Leroy James Ross. After his release from jail last September following a 17 month sentence for cocaine possession he was was re-arrested on May 3 of this year for providing false voter information this past February, and for voting in the 2020 election a-year-and-a-half ago.

Ross was deemed qualified and cleared to register during a voter registration drive carried out by the Alachua Supervisor of Elections, while he was still in jail. The Supervisor of Elections was cleared of responsibility for wrongfully registering him. Ross went back to jail.

During a news conference Friday in Orlando, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Executive Director Desmond Meade called the arrest frivolous. “You had a public official go into a jail and register those individuals. Checks and balances should have been incorporated to make sure that people who were registering were registering lawfully.”

Ross is one of ten convicted felons who have recently been charged with various election crimes this year. In some cases, like Ross', they were wrongfully registered by county election officials, in other cases former inmates were allowed to register, even though they still owed court ordered fees, fines or restitution.

It's the state's responsibility to ensure that those seeking to register are eligible, said Meade. He said its time for the state to create a database accessible to county elections officials that can be referenced when former inmates seek to register to ensure they're eligible to do so, before they're arrested. Meade also maintains that anyone who registers believing they are legally eligible, can not then be charged after the fact, if its later determined they were not qualified.

“The courts have explicitly said that it is the responsibility of the state to determine eligibility," said Meade. "If the state is not handling its job in determining eligibility then we should not be holding the citizens of Florida accountable.”

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has formed a task force to curb questionable voter fraud arrests and provide funding to pay court ordered fees or cover legal costs for former inmates charged with voter fraud.

“We will be offering up $100,000 to assist anyone in these counties who have any outstanding legal financial obligations to help them remove that debt," said Meade, "because we don’t believe that any American citizen should be forced to choose between putting food on their table or being able to participate in our democracy.”

Any former inmates seeking voter registration assistance can learn more at the Coalition website at: floridarrc.com.