Voter Fraud Arrests Raise Questions About the Florida Office of Election Crimes
Florida - Thursday October 20, 2022: Video of the arrests of alleged voter fraud suspects, first obtained and reported by the Tampa Bay Times, has raised renewed questions about Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes.
On August 18 of this year twenty people were arrested for voter fraud following an investigation by the Election Crimes unit. Tony Patterson, a registered sex offender, was among them. In police body camera footage both Patterson and the police officer who detained him, expressed confusion over his arrest.
“Why would you all let me vote if I wasn’t registered to vote," asked Patterson. "I’m not sure buddy, I don’t know," responded the officer.
A 2018 state constitutional amendment restored the right of felons to vote after their release and after they’d completed all the terms of their sentence and probation. The only exception is those who have been convicted of felony sex crimes, like Patterson, or those convicted of murder.
Yet despite their pasts, Patterson and others had been issued voter registration cards and cleared to cast ballots in the 2020 election by state officials.
“We are outraged by these developments. These individuals who have been arrested have been put in an impossible position by the State of Florida," said Nicole Porter is the Directory of Advocacy for The Sentencing Project in Washington D.C. "These folks were in contact with Government officials who talked to them about voting and they took action to participate in their democracy and now they are being prosecuted and subjected to imprisonment because of it.”
Neil Volz is the Deputy Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. “As long as the state is unable to determine voter eligibility on the front end, we should not be arresting people on the back end. We can do what other states are doing which is have a statewide data base and a voter verification process on the front end that gives people assurances that they’re eligible to vote and takes away any future arrests.”
VIEW the police body camera video first obtained by the Tampa Bay Times here: tampabay.com