Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried wants to know why the DeSantis administration is prosecuting a group of former felons for voter fraud while ignoring the state Division of Elections’ failure to flag them as ineligible.
In a letter delivered Tuesday to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Democrat Fried concedes that the 20 arrestees, trumpeted by governor during a news conference last month, had violated the law, if inadvertently. As people convicted of murder and sex crimes, they were ineligible to vote under Amendment 4, the 2018 constitutional amendment restoring voting rights for other offenders under certain circumstances. (See: “DeSantis Touts Arrests of 0.000001% of Voters for Fraud in 2020.”)
But she also notes that it is the responsibility of the Division of Elections to screen prospective voters for criminal records, because the county supervisors of election lack access to the necessary state databases.
And, because the Legislature added a requirement that reentering citizens pay all fines, fees, and restitution before they can vote, and the state lacks a master list of those “legal financial obligations,” there’s been considerable confusion about who is eligible to cast ballots.
“Unfortunately, much confusion still persists, especially given many formerly incarcerated individuals have limited financial resources or education surrounding election law,” Fried wrote.
“It has been reported that many of the 20 individuals arrested were misled to believe they were eligible to vote having served their sentences, submitted a voter registration application, and were registered to vote by the state. There appears to have been no intent on the part of these individuals to break the law — or even an awareness that by voting, they were doing so as they acted on information from government officials that they trusted to be accurate.”
DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin declined to comment. A spokesmen for the Florida Department of State, which houses the Division of Election, said comment would be forthcoming.
Fried, the only Democrat holding statewide elected office, will leave the Florida Cabinet following this year’s election, having lost her party’s gubernatorial primary to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.
During his news conference, DeSantis argued that the arrests vindicate his new Office of Election Crimes and Security. Fried, however, wrote that the entire episode “appears to have been nothing more than a publicity stunt.”
“While under current law, these individuals were not eligible to vote, the persecution of this predominantly Black group of Floridians who broke the law without intent is not only disproportionate punishment but cruel,” she wrote.
“That cruelty is even more so as it becomes evident that what should have been investigated was how and why the state provided ineligible voters with registrations and that their traumatic arrests appear to have been done for pure publicity purposes, stoking fear and discouraging others who are eligible from exercising their rights to vote in the future,” she added.
“Left unanswered and unaddressed, the Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security’s highly questionable actions create the perception of a state government willing to employ strict enforcement towards vulnerable citizens, while avoiding scrutiny of its own practices — bringing into question how election integrity is being preserved,” Fried wrote.
“Only by uncovering the state’s failures in this situation and why it merited such a draconian response against these 20 individuals causing them untold hardships, including why it was deemed necessary and by whom, can election integrity be claimed.”
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
Thank you Nikki for exposiing DeSantis, once again, as an unscrupulous mini-Trump.
Thank you, Nikki Fried, for calling us what it was – nothing but a publicity stunt and a way to further intimidate a marginalized population. Interestingly we heard nothing about any other types of voter fraud from the election police. I don’t think DeSantis is interested in confirming that there was no widespread voter fraud in Florida. It doesn’t fit into his narrative.
Take a seat Fried, you aren’t running because you lost against Crist thank God.
If the state makes practically indecipherable voter qualifications for felons returning to society, and the state has failed to commit due diligence, it’s the fault of the state.
We get it DeSantis. You only believe in laws that serve your fascist ideals. Asshole.
When I look into my crystal ball, it tells me that many of these cases will be dropped if any of these 20 folks get any sort of legal representation. I’m sure when the charges are dropped or the cases are thrown out, they will not receive the same amount of press coverage. I hope the press follows up on these cases instead of continually letting DeSantis do his PR stunts with little pushback or fact checking.
So, the Republicans, and DeSantis, like to dog whistle blacks to stir up their base (got to have an enemy), didn’t want felons who served their sentence to vote, and desperately wanted to show some proof of electoral fraud, managed to kill three birds with one stone. Clearly a political set up using people almost no one would care about.
These sociopath politicians need to go. Please vote against them. They aren’t in it for you or me.
Funky Fresh says
You guy’s are too far left, wake up. DeSantis has brought Florida back to life. We are growing and thriving. You can’t ask for to much more. I think most people just want to complain all the time, because that’s what their NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN tell’s them to do. Nikki Fried is just trying to do whatever she can to make a name for herself. She is sad, and pathetic. The Democratic party is stressing out so they have started to pull out all of their dirty little trick’s. Problem is most are so easily brain washed into believing whatever the democratic party tell’s them to believe they are no longer thinking rationally or realistically. We need to keep drilling, that would make our nation a power player. Instead the democrat’s think its a good idea to go green. That’s a great long term goal, our grid can’t handle that right now. Stop allowing Biden to spend spend spend. I worked hard for my college degree, and worked even harder to pay it off. What is this president doing. He is teaching his followers to work less, do less, take no pride in a hard day’s work right Biden, take government handouts. Here we are, major inflation with no end in sight, god help us, because the Democratic party won’t. To quote Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club Just bury your head in the sand, and wait for your freaking prom.
Funky: I, too, worked my way through college, paid my own rent, insurance, car payments and maintenance, etc. I am not a Democrat, I am NPA and barely watch the shows you have written here. But DeSantis is using these people for his own goal, and causing them unnecessary hardship for political gain. You really take someone seriously who go after Mickey and Minnie as a vengeance, and feel his was right to do so? Florida has had no problems in the past like you have written here. As a centrist, I can tell you DeSantis is a self serving jerk. I’m voting for Crist to get rid of this current ass.