February 6, 2023

GESTAPO TACTICS: Shocking video emerges of DeSantis voter fraud squad arrests

DICTATOR MOVE: Did DeSantis just commit voter fraud?

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Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has unleashed his Gestapo-inspired “election security” force on confused voters whom he alleges committed voter fraud. In an August 18th sweep, state and local law enforcement officers wearing body cameras converged on Hillsborough County residents and started making arrests — two years after the alleged crimes were committed.

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Following a two-month investigation by DeSantis’ newly created Office of Election Crimes and Security, police officers began making arrests.

Tampa resident Tony Patterson was visibly confused in a video captured on police body cameras.

“’What is wrong with this state, man?’ Patterson protested as he was being escorted to a police car in handcuffs. ‘Voter fraud? Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote, man,'” The Tampa Bay Times reported Patterson as saying.

“Why are y’all doing this now, and this happened two years ago?” he could be heard later in the video asking,

“I don’t know,” replied an officer.

Patterson was charged with two felonies and given a $1000 bond – $500 for each.

Patterson is accused of violating state law despite having completed his sentence which, under Florida state law, should have restored his voting rights. In 2018, Florida’s Amendment 4 restored the voting rights to many of Florida’s felons, with the exception of those convicted of murder or sex offenses, leaving many unsure about their rights.

“But, as the videos further support, the amendment and subsequent actions by state lawmakers caused mass confusion about who was eligible, and the state’s voter registration forms offer no clarity. They only require a potential voter to swear, under penalty of perjury, that they’re not a felon, or if they are, that their rights have been restored. The forms do not clarify that those with murder convictions don’t get automatic restoration of their rights,” The Tampa Bay Times reported.

United States District Judge Robert Hinkle agreed that the amendment was ambiguous at best, calling it an “administrative nightmare” during a 2019 hearing.

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“’What we have now is an administrative nightmare,’ said U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who is overseeing a challenge to the law by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, during a Tuesday hearing in Tallahassee,” the newspaper wrote.

“It’s become an administrative nightmare, he said, because of problems created by lawmakers. Even so, he said it was the Legislature that was best suited to fix the law, which he said was preferable to judges like himself trying to fix it.”

The ACLU asked the court to temporarily prevent Amendment 4 from going into effect at the time, amid concerns about a modern-day “poll tax” and it’s potential to scare voters away from registering.

When police served Romona Oliver with an arrest warrant just before seven in the morning, the 55-year-old was shocked.

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“Oh my God,” she said. “Voter fraud?” she said. “I voted, but I ain’t commit no fraud.”

After serving nearly 20 years behind bars for second-degree murder, Oliver registered to vote in 2020 – receiving a voter ID card after Department of State eligibility checks. An agency that reports to Governor DeSantis.

The attorney for Ms. Oliver, Mark Rankin, isn’t convinced the arrests are anything short of politically motivated. Rankin cited DeSantis’ reference to the criminal records of those arrested during a self-important press conference, where the governor patted himself on the back for tricking — and then arresting — unsuspecting citizens.

“They’re going to pay the price,” DeSantis boasted.

“That’s not an accident,” Rankin said. “That’s a political strategy.”

Yes, it is – a dangerous one.

A recurring theme in the video is the shock and surprise of the former felons who have been arrested for doing something that they thought was permissible, each acting under the belief that they registered legally.

Patterson, Oliver and the other 18 arrested are facing up to five years in prison, but Florida law requires “intent” for the charges to stick.

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Some of the state’s prosecutors have declined to prosecute other people for similar offenses. The rest of them need to join those colleagues immediately and put an end to DeSantis’ vile political stunt that directly contradicts the will of Florida’s voters.

Watch the video from  The Tampa Bay Times below.

Original reporting by Lawrence Mower at The Tampa Bay Times.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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