A Miami judge dismissed a case of voter fraud in the first of 19 cases heralded by Florida governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis had held a press conference in August to announce the charges, touting a new department created to combat voter fraud, which is rare.
The 19 cases all involved people with prior felony convictions.
The case on Friday involved Robert Lee Wood, a 56-year-old Miami man who registered to vote in 2020 and voted in the presidential election last year. State prosecutors indicted Wood, who is Black, saying he registered and voted knowing he was ineligible. He was ineligible because he was convicted in 1991, but Wood said he did not know that. He registered in 2020 when he was approached by a canvasser and was sent a voter registration card by the state.
Wood was charged with two third degree felonies, each punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The judge dismissed the case because he said statewide prosecutors had overstepped their authority in bringing charges against Wood.
In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to people with felonies, except those convicted of murder and sexual offenses. Some of those charged have said they believed the amendment restored their voting rights. The state has yet to provide evidence showing that any of the defendants, all of whom have prior murder or sexual offenses, knew they were exempt from the amendment.
“They did not go through any process, they did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyways. That is against the law and now they’re gonna pay the price for it.” — Captain Photo-op DeSantis
A spokesperson for the Florida attorney general said the state would appeal the ruling.
This story is an update from a previous News Views article.