ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The attorney representing a man who was arrested and accused of voter fraud in the 2020 election filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the charges.
Peter Washington was one of 20 convicted felons arrested in August on suspicion of illegally voting. However, News 6 learned most, if not all, of those arrested believed they were eligible to vote.
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the arrests in August during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale after an investigation by the newly created Office of Election Crimes and Security.
“They are disqualified from voting because they’ve been convicted of either murder or sexual assault and they do not have the right to vote,” DeSantis said during the news conference. “They did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyways. That is against the law and now they’re going to pay the price for it.”
Washington told News 6 there were a series of events that led him to believe his rights had been restored, including getting a jury summons in the mail. Under Florida law, felons are not allowed to sit on a jury unless their rights have been restored.
“They called me for court duty two to three times, but that’s what made me think I was eligible to vote, or my rights had been reinstated because you know you can’t be on a jury duty unless your rights have been reinstated,” Washington said.
The last summons happened more than three years ago, around the time Amendment 4 was passed, Washington said. Amendment 4 sought to automatically restore the rights of some convicted felons after completing their sentence and paying court fees, unless they are charged with a violent crime or sex crime.
The motion filed Monday says the state attorney’s office is limited to prosecute “only when any such offense is occurring, or has occurred, in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related transaction, or when any such offense is connected with an organized criminal conspiracy affecting two or more judicial circuits,” based on Article IV of the Florida Constitution and Florida Statute 16.56.
Washington’s attorney argues he only voted in Orange County and not in two or more counties required to prosecute, as written in the statute.
“They’ve alleged that my clients committed crimes in two different counties—that would be Leon County and Orange County,” Orlando attorney Roger Weeden said. “Immediately my position was that they didn’t have the authority to bring this case.”
Weeden represents Washington and Michelle Stribling, 52, who is also accused of voter fraud and believed her right to vote was restored.
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“Why am I being accused of something that I didn’t deceitfully do?” Washington asked.
Urged by his wife, Washington said that in 2019, he filled out a Florida Voter Application and received a voter information card with a Voter ID, according to the affidavit.
Washington went to the polls with his wife in person and asked questions.
“We showed them the ID. We showed them the voter card. We said, ‘Is this valid?’” Washington said.
Election workers told him it was valid, according to Washington.
If the charges are not dropped and his clients go to trial, Weeden said the state will have to prove they willfully violated the law.
View the motion below:
Motion to dismiss voter fraud charges by News 6 WKMG-TV on Scribd
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