Florida Gov. says election fraud arrests send a warning, but critics say he’s playing politics

Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week's voter fraud busts are only the beginning and he's sending a warning signal to all phony voters. But last year, 4 people in the Villages were arrested for voting twice.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Reaction coming in 24 hours after Thursday’s arrests of 20 Floridians, all ex-felons for voting illegally in the 2020 election.

Gov. Ron DeSantis claims election officials across Florida have been ignoring voter fraud for years, but no longer.

He vowed that this week’s arrests are only the beginning.

“This is not just going to be 20 arrests, this is the opening salvo from an office that opened on July 1,” DeSantis said in a press conference in Fort Lauderdale.

The 20 Florida felons arrested Thursday, convicted murderers and sex offenders not eligible to vote, send a warning signal to all phony voters.

Robert Lee Wood of Opa-locka appeared in bond court Friday. He was charged with unlawfully registering to vote and then casting a ballot in 2020.

He’s one of eight South Florida men busted by the new Office of Election Crime and Security.

“It has been well known in the political science community for a long time that we have had a problem of ineligible voters casting ballots in elections in this state and nothing has been done about it until now,” said Peter Antonacci, Director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Well not quite. In fact, four people in the Villages were arrested last year for voting twice.

Democrats Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist, who are vying to become Florida governor, both blasted Desantis Friday.

Crist said, “This is about playing politics, intimidating Democratic voters and his desire to run for president, not securing elections.”

But DeSantis says ensuring voting integrity is paramount.

“Unfortunately, there will be more prosecutions for some of the illegal felons, there are going to be prosecutions of people who voted in two different states,” DeSantis said Thursday.

DeSantis said his election police will be going after people who moved to Florida and vote in this state and in their original home state. He said they’ll also find and arrest “illegal aliens” — that’s how he put it who are voting pretending to be United States citizens. That may happen, but rarely — it’s one of those “urban myths.”

About the Author:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter.