Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Voter Fraud Workplace Nets 2 Extra Arrests

Florida continues a crackdown on election-related crime, asserting the arrests of two extra people Wednesday on prices of casting unlawful votes in final 12 months’s election. 

The Florida Workplace of Election Crimes and Safety, created by laws that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into regulation final April, introduced the arrests of 20 convicted felons it mentioned voted unlawfully within the 2020 normal election. 

The workplace referred one other 70 people to regulation enforcement after they allegedly voted unlawfully in 2022. 

On Feb. 2, DeSantis, a Republican, proposed a state funds that would supply $3.1 million and 27 positions to completely workers the election crimes workplace and supply extra investigative sources. The governor’s funds proposal additionally would supply $1.2 million for stay name heart companies supporting a hotline for voter fraud and help, cybersecurity consciousness coaching for supervisors of elections, and a coaching program for signature verification durring elections. 

As famous in my 2022 guide “The Delusion of Voter Suppression,” Florida has a historical past of voter fraud instances, notably in mayoral races in 2017 and 1997. 

The state has labored to enhance election safety for the reason that 2000 standoff between presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore, which led to some recounts there. Florida additionally handed election reforms in 2021. 

The state’s Division of Legislation Enforcement introduced the arrest of Donna Prentes Brady, 66, of Ocala, Florida, on two counts of casting a couple of poll in an election. The offense is a third-degree felony in Florida.  

Officers mentioned Brady voted within the 2020 major and normal elections in each Florida and New Jersey. In each elections, they mentioned, Brady voted in particular person in Marion County, Florida, and voted by mail in Sussex County, New Jersey. 

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Brady was arrested Monday and booked into the Marion County Jail, the place she awaits trial. 

Individually, the Division of Legislation Enforcement arrested Toye Ann La Rocca, 63, of Fort Walton Seashore, Florida, on one rely of falsely swearing to voter registration data and two counts of willful voting with out being certified. The offenses are third-degree felonies. 

Authorities arrested La Rocca per week in the past for allegedly voting in 2022 whereas on probation after a 2022 conviction for drunken driving. Since La Rocca is a convicted felon, she isn’t allowed to vote below state regulation till she completes her sentence. 

La Rocca voted in particular person for the first election in Okaloosa County, Florida, and voted by mail within the normal election final 12 months, authorities mentioned. 

Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies arrested La Rocca and booked her within the Okaloosa County Jail, the place she awaits trial.

A complete of 20 folks have been charged with election-related crimes since final August, when DeSantis established the Workplace of Election Crimes and Safety. 

“We’re investigating election fraud. It does occur. It’s actual,” Florida Secretary of State Twine Byrd advised The Every day Sign in an interview final month. “We’re sending that message to trustworthy folks, that you could belief your vote is being counted and never being diluted by a fraudulent vote, and telling the dangerous actors [that] we’re going to maintain you accountable.”

Florida’s election crimes workplace investigates and refers findings to the state Workplace of the Legal professional Normal and the Division of Legislation Enforcement.

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In January, the election crimes workplace issued its first annual report, which mentioned a complete of 1,094 people allegedly voted unlawfully in 2020 and one other 70 allegedly voted unlawfully within the 2022 normal election, in response to the report.

The workplace introduced the arrests of 20 people who beforehand had been convicted of felony intercourse offenses or homicide, alleging they unlawfully registered to vote after which voted within the 2020 normal election.

“Throughout the remaining months of 2022, with the assistance of the native State Legal professional Workplaces in Escambia [County] and Duval County, regulation enforcement made 4 arrests based mostly on extra OECS [Office of Election Crimes and Security] prison referrals,” the workplace’s annual report says. 

The OECS report cited a number of instances that the workplace referred to regulation enforcement. 

These included an October 2022 arrest of an unlawful immigrant, a 10-time convicted felon, who allegedly voted below an alias in Broward County. The person allegedly registered to vote utilizing a counterfeit beginning certificates from New York Metropolis.

In November, authorities arrested and charged a Palm Seashore County resident with voting in 2020 in each Florida and Alaska and doing the identical in 2014, 2016, and 2018.  

In December, regulation enforcement charged a Jackson County particular person with misuse of voter data and fraudulent submissions associated to petitions for a poll query.

“To not be ignored, along with the examples listed right here, all through the 2022 calendar 12 months the Division [of Law Enforcement] and the OECS acquired and reviewed 232 Election Fraud Complaints, dealt with lots of of e-mails, in addition to answered lots of of telephone calls made to the Voter Fraud Hotline,” the report says. 

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