Recent voter fraud sentences show inequity in criminal justice system

voter fraud (Large)
Two recent sets of voter fraud penalties show Florida's laws aren't being applied fairly.

Last month, 10 convicted felons were charged with voter fraud. Last week, the first of them was sentenced to three years in prison.

Daniel Dion Roberts received the sentence as part of a plea deal that saw him admit to committing voter fraud and providing false voter registration information. But it’s unclear whether what he did actually rises to the level of voter fraud.

So, what did he do? He registered to vote.

After voters overwhelming approved Amendment 4 in 2018, it has been legal for felons who have completed their sentences to vote. However, the various legal challenges surrounding the Legislature’s bill implementing the amendment have led to periods of confusion over who, exactly, can register.

Such was the case in Alachua County.

Roberts registered to vote in the summer of 2020 from inside the Alachua County jail. He did so when officials from the county Supervisor of Elections office visited the jail to help inmates vote — remember, many inmates are serving time for misdemeanors, meaning they never lost their right to vote.

However, those officials didn’t have case files listing which inmates had prior felony convictions, and more importantly, which of them had outstanding fines or fees related to those convictions.

The inmates were simply provided with the information after which they could choose whether to sign the voter registration form professing that they have completed all terms of their sentence. It’s entirely possible that the inmates themselves did not know they still had court fees to pay, and therefore did not know that they were breaking the law.

Of course, the lawyers out there will remind us of four Latin words they learned in law school: ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Translation: ignorance of the law excuses no one.

It may be that by the letter of the law these Alachua County inmates committed a crime. But that doesn’t mean the law is just, or that it was applied fairly. If it were, then acts of intentional voter fraud — such as voting twice — should be met with just as harsh a punishment, if not a harsher one.

But they aren’t.

In fact, voting twice is hardly punished at all. The Villages residents who pleaded guilty to doing so — Charles Barnes and Jay Ketcik — received 50 hours of community service and were ordered to take a three-month civics class. No Supervisor of Elections official knocked on their doors and told them they could legally vote twice, either.

What’s the Latin phrase for knowing the law and choosing to break it anyway? Because they did that and got away with it with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


5 comments

  • David

    June 13, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Those in The Villages had no previous criminal record. You’re an idiot for trying to compare the two. These inmates are in jail for breaking the law and then they do it again. Idiots. They deserve more than 3 years

  • Dr. David Manning

    June 14, 2022 at 8:38 am

    Mr. Roberts can thank ex-Mayor and crackhead Gillum and his Dem cronies for their efforts to hoodwink incarcerated nitwits like himself into registering to vote before understanding what the law actually was. There was no confusion about the law just unethical people trying to usurp the law.

  • Next Man Up

    June 14, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    01 2022 CF 000911 A – FELONY Closed – F3 (JUDGE COLAW)
    STATE OF FLORIDA -VS- LANG, ARTHUR LEONARD

    Party Information
    Full Name LANG, ARTHUR LEONARD
    Party Type DEFENDANT

    Charge Action Phase Disp. Date Disposition Counts
    1 PERJURY: FALSE SWEAR OATH AFFIRM OR PROCURE ANOTHE COURT 06/14/2022 Guilty Adjudication
    2 PERJURY: FALSE SWEAR OATH AFFIRM OR PROCURE ANOTHE COURT 06/14/2022 Guilty Adjudication
    3 FRAUD-ELECTION VOTING BY UNQUALIFIED VOTER COURT 06/14/2022 Guilty Adjudication

  • Mark

    June 15, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    Did you read the article?? Why do think that it is worse to break an ambiguous law accidentally than breaking a crystal clear law on purpose?

  • Score Sheets Matter!

    June 15, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    A life of crime littered with victims has consequences.

Comments are closed.


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