Black man, one of 20 arrested on illegal voting counts, has charges dropped

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' anti-fraud effort led to charges of "election voting by an unqualified voter" and "false swearing" against Tony Patterson.

Prosecutors have dropped the charges against a Black man who was one of 20 people arrested on claims of illegal voting in Florida.

According to HuffPost, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ supposed effort against voter fraud resulted in the arrest of Tony Patterson, 44, in August. DeSantis’ Office of Election Crimes and Security leveled charges of “election voting by an unqualified voter” and “false swearing” during the 2020 election.

Prosecutors filed a notice of “nolle prosequi” on Monday to dismiss the case, which indicated they would no longer pursue criminal charges against Patterson. A judge already had dropped a voter-fraud case against Robert Lee Wood, 56, following his arrest over the summer.

Tony Patterson in Florida
Prosecutors have dropped their case against Tony Patterson, 44, who was one of 20 people arrested over the summer on charges of illegal voting in Florida’s 2020 election. (Photo: Screenshot/ News)

According to Law & Crime, prosecutors claimed they were dismissing the charges due to “information received” from the Hillsborough County elections supervisor and the fact that Patterson was already undergoing sentencing in another case.

DeSantis had hailed the arrests as an essential step in ending unlawful voting, but critics claim the situation raises issues regarding the disadvantaged citizens’ targeted discrimination and disenfranchisement in America: At least 12 of those detained were Democrats, and 19 of them were Black.

The 20 people detained are prohibited from casting a ballot under Florida law, which allows only those convicted of felony charges other than murder or felony sexual assaults to vote. They claim not to have known because the state had already issued voter registration cards to them after approving their applications.

Law & Crime reported that Patterson entered a no-contest plea to a charge of failing to alert law authorities to a change in a vehicle’s registration and received a one-year and one-day prison sentence. His prior sex offender conviction forms the basis for that restriction on his use of automobiles.

“Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote,” Patterson said during his arrest, according to Law & Crime. “What you mean, I couldn’t vote? I don’t know this. How I’m supposed to know I can’t vote, man?”

Patterson further questioned the legitimacy of his arrest, which was recorded on police body camera, asking one of those serving his warrant why they would let him cast a ballot if he wasn’t authorized to do so.

“I’m not sure, buddy,” an officer replied, Law & Crime reported. “I don’t know.”

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