2 residents of The Villages admit to voting twice in 2020 election

Charles Barnes and Jay Ketcik avoid jail time under pre-trial diversion program

Two residents of The Villages admit to voting twice in the 2020 election (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Two residents of The Villages now admit they voted twice during the 2020 election, court records show.

Charles Barnes and Jay Ketcik recently entered a pre-trial diversion program that will allow them to avoid potential prison time if they successfully complete court-ordered requirements such as performing community service and attending a civics class.

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Both men acknowledged their guilt as part of their agreements with prosecutors.

“The Parties agree that the first step in rehabilitation is to the admission of his wrongdoing,” the written contracts state.

Barnes, 64, and Ketcik, 63, are among four residents of The Villages who were accused of casting multiple ballots in both Florida and their original home states during the 2020 election.

All four faced a maximum of five years in prison if a jury convicted them of the third-degree felony.

Joan Halstead, 71, and John Rider, 61, are still awaiting trial for allegedly casting multiple ballots, court records show. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Under the pre-trial intervention contracts signed by Barnes and Ketick, prosecution will be deferred for a period of 18 months, with the possibility that it will be permanently deferred if they successfully complete the court-ordered requirements.

Those requirements include refraining from violating any laws, possessing firearms without permission, and changing their residence or employment without permission, records show.

Barnes and Ketcik must also complete a 12-week adult civics class based on the textbook “We the People; the Citizen and the Constitution” and receive a grade of C or better, the agreement states.

The two men are also required to perform 50 hours of community service and pay a $50 monthly fee to the Department of Corrections along with $400 in additional fees and costs, records show.

Barnes, Ketick and their attorneys did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls from News 6 offering the opportunity to comment.

Barnes, who was not affiliated with a political party at the time of the 2020 election, told investigators he “wanted to see if he could vote twice” in both Florida and his home state of Connecticut, according to court records.

Ketcik, who was registered as a Republican in November 2020, originally told investigators that his vote-by-mail ballot was sent to his original home state of Michigan “by mistake”, court records show.

“I did not willfully vote twice in the same election,” Ketcik reportedly told investigators prior to his arrest. “My intent was to be a Florida resident and vote in Florida. I had no intention of voting in Michigan.”

Florida’s Secretary of State first learned about Ketcik and other alleged double voters after receiving anonymous emails from a self-described “citizen election integrity analyst” who used the pseudonym “Totes Legit Votes”, News 6 discovered.

The anonymous tipster claims to have provided Florida elections officials with about 290 examples of potential double voting, but a spokesperson for Florida’s Secretary of State has not confirmed that figure and has not answered questions first submitted by News 6 in December inquiring about the state’s response to the anonymous emails.

Barnes’ alleged crime was uncovered by an elections official in Connecticut who found evidence of his double votes while using a system provided by the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, a nonprofit organization that helps states improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls.

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.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.