Q: Does this mean governor Ron DeSantis committed voter intimidation by using felons who unknowingly voted illegally?

Just days before the primaries, governor DeSantis made sure not to clarify that these voters were felons who thought their rights were restored. I cannot see how this is NOT being considered voter intimidation. If you think that what this man has done was legal, please explain. I appreciate your time.

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I looked online for what you are referencing, and I see a story regarding DeSantis announcing that the Fla. Dept. of Law Enforcement arrested 20 people who allegedly voted illegally because their voting rights were not restored, even though they were allowed to register. (See, for example, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2022/08/19/desantis-touted-their-arrest-but-ex-felons-say-they-werent-told-they-couldnt-vote/ ).

If all of the arrested individuals have the same story as the lady first mentioned in the above news article, I'm guessing that they will likely have a good defense of not having the intent to commit the crime, and hopefully will be found not guilty or have their cases dismissed. But if you're asking if there's a law that obligates the governor to inform the public that the arrested individuals have the defense that they thought their rights were restored, the answer is no.

The government does need to do a much better job of getting the word out regarding who is qualified to vote after a felony conviction and who is not, and on how to seek restoration of rights. The government (State or local) should also provide an instant background check that would allow for the registration office to reject an application without subjecting the unqualified voter to arrest. Everyone should talk to their State legislators, local elections officials and/or county/city commissioners about this issue, as well as talk to private organizations concerned with voting, such as the ACLU, NAACP, and League of Women Voters.

Stephen Arnold Black
Stephen Arnold Black
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I think you’re overanalyzing this. He wants to send a strong signal that anyone who illegally votes will be prosecuted. Many lawbreakers are not prosecuted and the governor is stating that Florida will enforce the law on the books.

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