Four white men from an affluent private community in central Florida would probably tell reporters that voter fraud is wrong. But now two of them have entered guilty pleas for voting in two different states in the 2020 presidential election. They don’t face any jail time if they complete the terms of their sentences, which involve taking civics classes and community service. They could have gotten up to five years in prison.
The “slap on the wrist” sentences stand in contrast with the actions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently got the state legislature to create and fund an election integrity police force in the Sunshine State. DeSantis, a possible contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, signed the bill, which was enacted after Florida resident Donald John Trump claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen from him. Trump is under investigation in the Atlanta area for alleged election fraud. A taped phone conversation shows Trump trying to get the Republican secretary of state in Georgia to “find” enough votes for him to give him a victory in that state. He lost Georgia by almost 12,000 votes.
However, Trump romped in the neighboring Sunshine State in that election. He also did great in The Villages, composed mainly of white people with money. The two 60-something men who entered guilty pleas lived in The Villages when they were not at their northern homes. Two other white men, who also live in The Villages, have refused to plead guilty. They plan to go on trial.
One of the men who admitted committing voter fraud was discovered because many states in this nation belong to the Electronic Registration Information Center, which provides updated voter registration data to member states. Connecticut learned that one of their voters had also voted in Florida, after reviewing data from ERIC. But Republican officials in Florida didn’t catch the problem with their ERIC information. This is how a Florida reporter put it:
“The offices of Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee did not respond to questions from News 6 inquiring why Connecticut elections officials may have uncovered Barnes’ alleged crime before Florida officials did, despite both states being ERIC members.”
The soft sentences for the older white men also stand in contrast with the way people who don’t have much money, or are Black, get treated in the United States. Here is a link to a story about a Texas woman who was sentenced to five years in prison. She cast a provisional ballot in 2016 because she thought she was allowed to vote but was not on the voter rolls. The provisional ballot was not counted after it was determined the woman had not met all legal requirements in Texas for returning citizens who want to vote after they get out of prison.
Here is a link to another story about a Black man in Texas who was charged with voter fraud. He was charged after waiting in line for six hours to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Georgia has made it a crime to give food or water to people who are waiting in line to vote. In Texas, the secretary of state says it is a crime only if the food or water was given to attempt to influence the voter.