Turns out that the arrests of 20 people for voter fraud by Desantis, made with much fanfare and bluster, may be already falling apart because the statue requires you “knowingly” violate the law, but state elections officials had certified them as eligible. https://t.co/D2uzW1ZrOn— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 30, 2022
The first round of defendants are charged with voting while ineligible, a third-degree felony in Florida. This law applies to any voter who casts a ballot “knowing he or she is not a qualified elector.” In other words, prosecutors must prove (to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendants knew their votes were illegal. Clearly, they had no such knowledge. Election officials told them they could vote, and provided them with all the tools to do so. DeSantis likely hoped they would agree to a plea deal, but voting rights lawyers have already stepped in to ensure that they will fight the charges in court.
And here's the fun part:
Perhaps the governor won’t mind when the criminal case against these voters falls apart. His intention, after all, was to create a chilling effect on others’ rights, frightening eligible residents out of trying to vote. He has put a target on the back of every Floridian who was supposed to regain full citizenship under Amendment 4. Plenty of formerly incarcerated people might look upon this episode as proof that it is not worth attempting to rejoin the electorate. Even if every defendant is ultimately acquitted, DeSantis’ quest to prove that he can undermine democracy just as viciously as Trump remains intact.
That may win enough hearts and minds in Florida to keep DeSantis in the governor's office. But the general electorate actually seems concerned with the state of democracy in America; and DeSantis' track record won't be something he can hid.