Statewide prosecutor secures conviction in Tampa illegal voting case
In Ron DeSantis' war on voter fraud, Tallahassee may be Ground Zero.

Byron Leonard Smith was among a round of arrests announced in August.

A statewide prosecutor took over an illegal voting case in Hillsborough County and notched a conviction.

Tampa man Byron Leonard Smith entered a guilty plea for unlawfully casting a vote. Circuit Judge Christine Ann Marlewski, who was first appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott, sentenced him to six months probation. Smith is also responsible for $560 in court fees.

Smith was among a round of arrests Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in August after an investigation of individuals who voted illegally in the 2020 election.

He was also among those whose arrest was captured on body cam footage released by the Tampa Police Department. The Guardian published video of Smith’s arrest, where the Tampa man said he was confused over what the arrest was about.

An officer put Smith in handcuffs and told him he had a $1,000 fine for “false voting and something else.” Smith in the video denied voting in the most recent election while in a police squad car, the footage showed.

Smith had registered to vote in January 2019 after passage of a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights for most convicted felons who served their sentence and paid all fees and fines to the state. State officials approved Smith’s voter registration immediately and he voted in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Previously, Smith pleaded guilty in 1994 to possession of child pornography. The constitutional amendment did not restore the rights of those convicted of sexual offenses.

The case is notable as it’s the first of the recent charges to be handled by a statewide prosecutor. The Legislature in a Special Session this year passed a law giving the statewide prosecutor authority to handle election-related cases when votes were cast in elections spanning multiple judicial circuits. Cases previously had been handled by local State Attorney’s Offices.

The statewide prosecutor reports to Attorney General Ashley Moody.

After the round of arrests in August, many defendants have said they believed they had lawfully registered. Judges have dismissed charges in some instances already and some local State Attorneys voiced reluctance to bring charges.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Mark Tilham

    March 23, 2023 at 9:31 am

    Truly the state should apologize to those who accidentally voted illegally because they were told they were eligible voters. Moving prosecution under Attorney General Ashley Moody rather than their local prosecutor is ridiculous. This is one more attempt to suppress minority voters who would vote against Governor DeSantis.

  • Earl Pitts American

    March 23, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Good morning to the Supervisors of Elections in Broward, Miami/Dade, Hillsbourogh Pinellas, Orange, Duval, and Leon Counties,
    This “shot heard around the State” is for you. Remember how much fun you guys had cheating for leftist candidants in the past?
    Well that shizz is over now.
    You guys wont get the light slap on the wrist this Tampa man got. Y’all gonna do hard time with no paroll.
    Thank you corrupt Supervisors in the above corrupt Counties,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Pancho Villar

      March 23, 2023 at 1:25 pm

      What’s “paroll?”

    • unreal

      March 23, 2023 at 3:02 pm

      its clear , You have no idea how any of this works do ya? go back into your hole please

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704