Case dropped against Orange County man arrested, accused of voter fraud by the state

Peter Washington was one of 20 arrested in 1st investigation of Florida’s Office of Election Crimes

ORLANDO, Fla. – A judge dismissed the case Monday against an Orange County man who was part of the first high-profile investigation by Florida’s Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Peter Washington, 59, was arrested back in August for voting even though he was a convicted felon. His arrest was one of 20 announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis. as a show of fighting voter fraud.

The case was prosecuted by the state’s Office of Statewide Prosecutor, a position appointed by the Florida attorney general.

However, Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Jennifer Harris said the OSP did not have the “statutory authority to prosecute this order,” since all of Washington’s actions took place in Orange County, which means they should fall to the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s state attorney to prosecute.

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“If the legislature wants a centralized prosecutor with the power to pursue any perceived illegality throughout the State of Florida, the Florida legislature has the authority to create a centralized system. This Court will not facilitate such a concentrated power without legislative authority,” Harris said.

It’s the latest case to be dismissed by a Florida judge because of jurisdiction and is the reason why last week the Florida Legislature passed a bill trying to clarify how the OSP can prosecute these cases.

Orange County records show Washington pleaded no contest to a felony offense of attempted sexual battery of a child in 1996 and was given probation. However, he violated that probation by not properly registering with the state. Because of that, he was sentenced to prison time in 2001 and was released in November 2010.

After the passage of Amendment 4 in 2018, he said he believed his rights had been restored. This belief, he said was further bolstered by the fact that he was able to register to vote and received a voter information card.

Washington said in 2020 he showed election workers at the polls his ID and voter card and asked if it was valid, and was told yes.

The Orange County supervisor of elections office said it did not receive information that Washington was ineligible to vote until a month after the election.

A local attorney is representing two Orange County residents who were wrapped up in voter fraud allegations lodged by Gov. Ron DeSantis back in August.

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About the Authors:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.