Prosecutors drop voter fraud charges against Tony Patterson

Tony Patterson is arrested for voter fraud

Florida prosecutors have dropped charges against a man arrested for voting in August. The dropped charges are a setback for the governor. Ron DeSantis after his self toutedwidely publicized and immediately politicized sweeps targeting individuals who allegedly cast ballots illegally earlier this year.

Tony Patterson, 44, is from Tampa. His arrest, captured on body camera footage carried by police, became something of a beacon of controversy over charges brought by police against 20 people Florida Bureau of Voting Crimes and Securityan election control agency operating under the aegis of the Sunshine State Department of State.

“You all said anyone with a crime can vote,” Patterson said on the Video his arrest – which was widely shared when it was made public in October. “What do you mean I couldn’t choose? I do not know it. How do I know I can’t vote, man? And why are you doing this now?”

“Why did you let me vote when I couldn’t vote?” Patterson went on to question one of the many arresting officers serving his warrants.

“I’m not sure, mate,” an officer replied. “I do not know.”

According to that Tampa Bay TimesProsecutors said they would drop the charges based on “information received” from the Hillsborough County Election Commissioner and because Patterson was previously convicted in a separate case.

In September, Patterson was sentenced to a year and a day in state prison after failing to contest a charge of failing to notify law enforcement of a vehicle registration change, the newspaper reports. This requirement for his access to motor vehicles is based on his previous conviction as a sex offender. In Florida, such changes must be reported within 48 hours.

Several people arrested during the Florida election rounds were specifically told they could vote, it said MSNBC. Some of them, including Patterson, were cleared by state officials to receive voter IDs — and then received them.

Another man was caught by the loop Pete Washington, received a voter registration form from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections in Florida, MSNBC reported. Assuming he was eligible to vote, he filled out the paperwork and, like Patterson, received a voter’s card. Washington was arrested two years later.

According to court documents in Patterson’s case, obtained from Tampa/St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSPProsecutors wrote the words “nolle prosequi’ – Latin for ‘not wishing to pursue’ – and what is typically transcribed in legal jargon as ‘do not pursue’.

Patterson is the second Florida resident to have his voter fraud case dropped or dismissed in as many months.

At the end of October, a judge dismissed the charge of voter fraud Robert Lee Wood, 56, who was also arrested during the DeSantis crackdown. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch dismissed the case because Wood was being prosecuted by an agency that had no jurisdiction.

The judge’s dismissal order stated:

The present charges are being brought by the Attorney General (“OSP”), not the Miami-Dade District Attorney. OSP has the authority to initiate criminal prosecutions in Florida if one of two conditions is met: either the crime being abolished must have been committed “in two or more jurisdictions as part of a related transaction,” or the crime must be “connected to an organized crime.” “. Conspiracy affecting two or more jurisdictions.”

However, this dismissal is being challenged by the public prosecutor.

Patterson’s attorney had previously picked up Wood’s firing, the agency said Tampa Bay Timesrequest of the prosecutor Nick Cox to try to counter the jurisdiction argument in Hillsborough County earlier this month. Prosecutors needed a written response — particularly on the jurisdiction issue — when they asked that Patterson’s case be dismissed of their own accord.

The place of greatest confusion and dismay over the arrests is the passage of a 2018 constitutional amendment, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of Florida voters. This constitutional amendment was widely celebrated by pro-suffrage advocates because it removed Florida’s Jim Crow-era ban on extending voting rights to those convicted of felonies.

During those midterm elections, about 65 percent of Floridians voted for Amendment 4 — which would have given about 1.5 million previously disenfranchised Floridians the right to vote.

The popular measure affected approximately seven percent of Florida’s entire population but disproportionately impacted the state’s black community. Under the previous 150-year-old system of disenfranchisement, nearly 20 percent of Florida’s black population were denied the right to vote.

What could have amounted to revolutionary change in Florida’s electorate was hampered by the GOP’s efforts to pass SB 7066, a law that would implement the change while making the restoration of voting rights conditional on the individual’s ability to pay any associated fines and fees to pay convictions.

Deplored by critics as a revived “poll tax,” the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed the implementing legislation in September 2020 after nearly two years of intense litigation.

Many voters who had not yet paid such fines likely voted in the 2020 presidential election unaware that the constitutional amendment had intentionally but belatedly lived up to its promise — or at least all of the initial media coverage of its passage.

Patterson, on the other hand, was probably not allowed to vote under any circumstances. Amendment 4 also specifically said that voting rights would not be restored to those convicted of murder or sexual assault.

[image via screengrab/WFLA]

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