Florida registered sex offender voted illegally in 2020 election, officials say

Louis Palmieri, 77, of Melbourne, held on $10,000 bond

LOUIS PALMIERI (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

MELBOURNE, Fla. – A registered sex offender in Florida has been arrested on charges that he voted illegally in the November 2020 election.

Louis Palmieri, 77, of Melbourne, was charged Tuesday with false affirmation in connection with an election and voting by an unqualified elector, both third-degree felonies, according to Brevard County jail records. Melbourne is on the Atlantic coast, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Orlando.

Palmieri voted in the November 2020 election after signing paperwork claiming he was eligible to vote, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Election Crime Unit said in a news release. Florida voters passed a state constitutional amendment in 2018 to restore the voting rights of most convicted felons, but the amendment exempted felons convicted of murder or sexual offences. Palmieri is on state's sex offender registry following a 2003 lewd and lascivious conviction on a child under 16 from St. Lucie County.

The case was originally spotted by the Florida Department of State and will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Palmieri was being held on $10,000 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney.

During the 2022 legislative session, Republican lawmakers passed an election police bill pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, who cited as justification unspecified cases of fraud. DeSantis echoed many talking points on voting problems that have gained traction in the GOP after former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his reelection was stolen from him.

Last August, DeSantis announced the arrests of 20 convicted felons accused of voting illegally in the 2020 election. But voting advocates have said the fact that the defendants were able to successfully register with their local election officials gave them a false sense of eligibility, so the cases were unfair.