Ron DeSantis’ First Voter Fraud Bust Is Quickly Imploding
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a spectacle out of the round of arrests made by his election police force earlier this month, jailing 20 people on charges of voter fraud and promising more prosecutions to come. At least one target was dragged to jail in his underwear by a SWAT team at 6 a.m. But it turns out that the individuals ensnared in DeSantis’ dragnet had no idea that they could not lawfully vote. The governor’s own appointees flubbed their legal duty to stop them from registering. And because of their sloppy errors, all 20 defendants may well be acquitted of crimes they did not intend to commit.
DeSantis’ misadventure traces back to Amendment 4, the ballot initiative that was supposed to restore voting rights to most people who had completed sentences for felony convictions. (Those convicted of murder and sex offenses were excluded.) Floridians overwhelmingly approved the constitutional amendment in 2018. Yet DeSantis and his fellow Republicans promptly sabotaged the amendment by enacting an unnavigable, incomprehensible system for individuals who wished to regain their right to vote. The state refused to establish a coherent process for people convicted of felonies to learn they are eligible to cast a ballot. Many Floridians with disqualifying convictions, including the defendants arrested this month, are therefore unaware that amendment 4 does not apply to them.