DeSantis Weaponizes Voter Fraud Using His Election Police

Consider Robert Simpson, a 64-year-old black man from Pahokee who is promoted as one of the faces of voter fraud in Florida.

Simpson, a truck driver at the Okeelanta sugar mill, had spent about four years in a South Florida psychiatric hospital after walking into the factory office at the end of a day’s work in November 1987, and shooting and killing his boss, Neal Mayo Jr., who was a South Bay City Commissioner.

For years Simpson was deemed incompetent to stand trial because the shooting happened after a horrific accident in which Simpson saw another driver beheaded. According to repeated assessments by psychologists, Simpson was found unable to comprehend the second-degree murder charge against him and had mistaken the accident for the shooting. The traumatized Simpson “thought the accident was meant for him” and thought Mayo, a white man who resented Simpson, was trying to kill him, a psychologist testified.

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Thus, the state confined Simpson to a mental hospital until January 1992. It was then that he was finally found competent to face the murder case against him. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder – that is, murder “demonstrating a depraved mind” committed without any premeditation.

“I didn’t want to kill this guy,” Simpson said in court that day. “It came down to that because I felt it was his life or mine.”

Simpson was sentenced to 23 years in prison, with the time he spent in a mental hospital counting towards his incarceration. He was then placed in the state prison system for the remainder of his sentence and was released in early July 1999.

Obstacles to the Right to Vote in Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale.

Now, 18 years later, Florida is home to about 25% of America’s 6 million ex-felons who are waiting to have their voting rights restored, and Florida’s clemency process has a backlog of 85,000 cases and approvals under the government of the time. Rick Scott slows down slightly.

As state lawmakers showed little interest in restoring civil rights to felons, Florida voters took matters into their own hands, approving a constitutional amendment that appeared to restore voting rights to 1.6 million convicted felons. who had served their sentence.

The measure excluded criminals like Simpson who were charged with murder or sex crimes.

Republican-led lawmakers did their best to minimize the effect of the ex-criminals’ vote by passing a law stating that “all penalties, including full payment of restitution, or fines, fees or costs resulting of condemnation” had to be satisfied at first.

And then pretend that it could take years to figure out what those costs might be. This created a sort of limbo for criminals, where registering to vote could lead to a criminal charge.

Simpson went to a voter registration drive at Anquan Boldin Stadium in Pahokee in 2019 and registered to vote ‘because he heard people with criminal backgrounds had their right to vote back’ , according to a court document.

A box on the voter registration form asks potential voters to verify they are eligible to vote, but the county elections office does not have access to the state Division of Elections database. which is used to flag ineligible voters.

Local election officials unaware of voter roll information

The county sends the request to the state, then relies on the state to notify the county if the voter registration is invalid. Otherwise, the voter is deemed eligible.

Simpson’s recording has not been reported by the state. He was therefore entered on the county rolls as an eligible voter. And last week, his 2020 vote became fodder for another Governor Ron DeSantis campaign production.

Gathering his new Bureau of Election Crimes and Security unit in Broward County — the county with the highest percentage of Democratic Party voters — DeSantis barred Democratic lawmakers from an event that announced the arrest of Simpson and 16 other ex-criminals from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Orange counties.

As usual with DeSantis announcements, there’s a lot less than meets the eye.

Children holding signs against Critical Race Theory stand on stage near Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he addresses the crowd before publicly signing HB7,

Whether it’s banning the teaching of history, defending an unconstitutional law that would prevent private companies from conducting diversity training, or requiring state college professors to disclose their opinions political, there is a lack of caricatural seriousness in his made-for-grassroots demagoguery that doesn’t age well.

Lately he spoke of being put on “the full armor of God.”


Even State Senator Jeff Brandes, the Republican lawmaker behind the state law guiding the restoration of felons’ voting rights, sees a problem with DeSantis’ criminal event.

“Our intent was that ineligible individuals be granted some pardon by the state if they registered without the intent to commit voter fraud,” Brandes tweeted. “Some of the people checked with the SOEs (Election Supervisors) and believed they could register. #Intentmatters.

Additionally, the arrest of Simpson and the others, who now face a 5-year felony charge for illegal voting, comes after DeSantis was a silent bystander in the most widespread and widespread voter fraud effort. substantial in Florida in the 2020 election.

And I’m not talking about the small number of voters in The Villages who got caught voting twice in Florida and another state, and had their voter fraud cases quietly reduced from crimes to pre-trial intervention that eliminates jail time and a criminal record.

Florida’s Real Epidemic of Voter Fraud

No, I’m talking about orchestrated, heavily funded election fraud that changes the results. Shady political action committees invested $550,000 in 2020 to pay bogus candidates in Florida Senate races to elect Republican candidates.

In one case, a Frank Artiles, a former Republican state senator, paid $45,000 to Alex Rodriguez, an unlucky auto parts dealer from Boca Raton, to become a bogus candidate in a Miami-Dade race to elect Ileana. Garcia, who won by just 32 votes over the Democratic candidate also nominated Rodriguez.

Frank Artiles

It was the Miami-Dade Democratic prosecutor and the media that brought this to light along with two other cases of bogus candidates funded by the same shadowy groups. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement — not DeSantis’ elite Election Police Squadron — eventually got involved.

It was real electoral fraud that had real results. He changed the composition of the Florida Senate. And was funded by big Republican political players with big money – not some hapless 64-year-old ex-felon from Pahokee whose ballot application was submitted to the state Division of Elections, where she allegedly could, but was not, filtered.

Jestine Iannotti, 36, of Winter Springs, was jailed in Seminole County Jail for filing false campaign returns and accepting illegal campaign contributions.

DeSantis didn’t do his routine as an election advocate in the Republican stronghold of Seminole County to expose Jestine Iannotti, the bogus candidate there for a state Senate seat. A 2020 letter to Democratic voters in that district showed Iannotti as a black woman, albeit a white one, not really running and moving to Sweden.

This is well-choreographed voter fraud. You want to make a big fuss about stealing the election in Florida? Find the source of the $550,000 voter fraud slush fund and everyone who knew about it and made money from it in 2020.

After all, they might be considering using it again. And as for the 64-year-old black man from Pahokee, he could get the same deferential treatment as dual white Republican voters from The Villages.

So when DeSantis stands behind a podium that says “Election Integrity,” it should be noted that this ship has sailed before and DeSantis was not on it.

Frank Cerabino is a columnist for the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at [email protected] Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

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