Voting rights advocates call Florida fraud arrests form of intimidation

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition demands better record keeping from state leaders

Desmond Meade at Friday's news conference at the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition offices in Orlando. (Erik Sandoval, Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The man who spearheaded a movement that resulted in convicted felons getting their right to vote returned in Florida is demanding better record-keeping from state officials.

Desmond Meade heads up the Orlando-based Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which successfully landed Amendment 4 on the Florida ballot in 2018.

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The measure, which passed with 64% of the vote, cleared the way for convicted felons in the state to vote.

Legislation added after it passed required convicted felons to pay all of their fines and fees before their right to vote was restored.

At a news conference Friday, Meade took issue with the arrests of nine people in Alachua County and one in Duval County – all charged with voter fraud.

Meade said some were convicted felons who had not paid their fines and fees, and he claimed they did not know they were not eligible until they paid them.

He called their arrests a form of voter intimidation.

“One key element to that is intent,” he said. “If you have a Supervisor of Elections that actually comes to you and registers you to vote, how is the state going to prove that you intended to defraud it?”

Meade said the FRRC is establishing a task force that will be traveling the state helping others who may be in a similar situation.

In the meantime, he demanded the State of Florida develop a database of eligible voters to prevent a similar issue from happening again.

News 6 contacted the Florida Department of State and is still awaiting a response to Meade’s demand.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.