DeSantis Voter Fraud Suspects Confused About Arrest: “What’s Going On?”

New arrest videos showed confusion among suspects accused of voter fraud in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced earlier this year that he plans to further investigate alleged voter crimes.

On Tuesday the Tampa Bay Times obtained arrest footage in August showing law enforcement officers from the Tampa Bay Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office informing suspects that they were being arrested on alleged voter fraud charges.

“What’s happening?” One person, identified as Tony Patterson, questioned officers while handcuffing her.

The new video comes months after DeSantis announced that he is forming the Bureau of Election Crimes and Security to investigate possible election crimes. A spokesman for the DeSantis office said news week in April that the new legislation would include staff who are trained and have a “clearly defined responsibility to investigate alleged election-related crimes” and “will act as a strong deterrent to potential perpetrators of voter fraud”.

Florida Ballot
“I Voted” stickers will be displayed during the District 20 convention election on January 11, 2022 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. On October 18, videos showed suspects accused of voter fraud confused by their arrests in Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Before DeSantis signed the law into law, the Campaign Legal Center said, “This approach to election security is a solution to finding a problem.”

“The criminalization of the electoral process could become a weapon to target election officials who make honest mistakes and intimidate or harass minority voters and other vulnerable communities to discourage voting,” the Campaign Legal Center said.

In August, DeSantis announced that after the creation of the new Voting Crimes Bureau, law enforcement arrested at least 20 people for allegedly voting illegally. According to that Tampa Bay Timesthose arrested were convicted of criminal offenses but voted in the 2020 elections.

“It’s against the law and now they’re going to pay the price for it, so they’re being charged,” DeSantis said at the time. “You will be charged and arrested today with election fraud.”

According to that Tampa Bay Times, Patterson was previously convicted of a sex crime, but the arrest video tells cops his crimes “happened years ago.” The arrest video also showed Patterson saying he was encouraged to vote by his brother.

“I always listen to everyone else. Vote for it… c’mon man,” he said in the video. “I thought criminals could vote. So I signed a petition form, I remember that…Why did you let me vote if I couldn’t vote?”

When speaking to news week On Tuesday, Blair Bowie of the Campaign Legal Center said that “illegal elections require the definition of crime that people know they are ineligible to vote.”

“And there’s absolutely no evidence that these people knew they weren’t eligible. We know the law has been confusing and changing and that there has been a lot of misinformation. And in order to charge and arrest people, you have to have a probable cause that they actually committed a crime. There’s no probable cause,” said Bowie, who started the Campaign Legal Center’s Restore Your Vote project. “These videos further show that they had no idea they weren’t eligible.

“This is intended to undermine public safety in our elections by supporting this myth that there is widespread voter fraud.”

news week reached out to the DeSantis office for comment. DeSantis Voter Fraud Suspects Confused About Arrest: “What’s Going On?”

Rick Schindler

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