Voting Fraud Charges for 3 in Florida's Villages

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All were residents of the famed, sprawling status assemblage northwest of Orlando. Two were Republicans, and 1 had nary affiliation.

Voters walked to a polling presumption    connected  predetermination  time  past  twelvemonth  successful  The Villages, Fla, a planned status  assemblage  whose colonisation  has ballooned since 2010.
Credit...Joe Skipper/Reuters

Johnny Diaz

Dec. 15, 2021, 1:46 p.m. ET

Three residents of a sprawling Florida status assemblage were arrested implicit the past 2 weeks connected charges of voting much than erstwhile successful the 2020 wide election, according to the authorities.

The residents, Jay Ketcik, 63, Joan Halstead, 72, and John Rider, 61, lived successful The Villages, a planned assemblage northwest of Orlando wherever erstwhile President Donald J. Trump held a run rally soon earlier the 2020 election.

The 3 were each charged with casting much than 1 ballot successful an election, according to apprehension records from the bureau of the authorities lawyer successful the Fifth Judicial Circuit successful Florida.

Each complaint is simply a third-degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years successful prison, said Bill Gladson, the authorities lawyer for the Fifth Judicial Circuit successful Ocala, Fla. Citing rules of nonrecreational conduct, Mr. Gladson said connected Wednesday that helium could not remark connected pending cases. Ms. Halstead declined to remark connected Wednesday. Mr. Rider and a lawyer for Mr. Ketcik did not instantly respond to requests for comment.

Court records did not accidental for whom the 3 voted successful the 2020 wide predetermination oregon successful what different elections they voted retired of state. Voting records successful the Florida Department of State database Mr. Ketcik and Ms. Halstead arsenic registered Republicans. Mr. Rider has nary enactment affiliation connected record.

About a 45-minute thrust northwest from Orlando, the assemblage was built successful the 1960s arsenic a postulation of tracts and grew successful popularity successful the 1980s and 1990s with retirees from Northern states arsenic its organizers added amenities specified arsenic movie theaters, buying and different leisure activities. With much than 130,000 residents, the assemblage of adults 55 and older, which stretches into 3 counties, has go 1 of Florida’s fastest-growing metro areas.

It is improbable the disputed votes had immoderate effect connected the 2020 election. Mr. Trump won Florida by astir 51.2 percent and by an adjacent acold greater margins successful The Villages, though Joe Biden had energetic supporters determination arsenic well. After residents who supported Mr. Trump held a play cart rally amid counterprotesters, helium tweeted a video of the event, writing, “Thank you to the large radical of The Villages.” Then came his rally successful October.

Following his decision successful the 2020 election, Mr. Trump made baseless claims of rampant elector fraud, which failed to summation immoderate traction successful courts crossed 7 states. But the erstwhile president and his allies person continued to repetition the mendacious allegations.

But predetermination officials successful dozens of states representing some governmental parties person said that determination was nary grounds that fraud oregon different irregularities played a role deciding the statesmanlike race. In general, elector fraud is highly uncommon successful the United States, and cases that bash hap are often isolated and improbable to impact an election.

Mr. Ketcik and Ms. Halstead turned themselves successful to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center connected Nov. 29 and Dec. 8, according to the sheriff’s office. Mr. Rider was arrested by Brevard County deputies astatine a cruise vessel terminal astatine Port Canaveral connected Dec. 3, according to prosecutors.

It was not wide whether the 3 residents knew each other. Each was booked into a detention halfway oregon jailhouse and released the aforesaid time of their arrest, records show.

A probable origin affidavit said that, successful summation to casting much than 1 ballot successful Florida successful October 2020, Ms. Halstead and Mr. Rider besides formed 2nd ballots successful New York done an absentee ballot. Mr. Ketcik was besides accused of voting done message successful Florida and casting a second, absentee ballet successful Michigan.

The probe into allegations of elector fraud by Mr. Ketcik, Ms. Halstead and Mr. Rider was initiated by the bureau of the Sumter County supervisor of elections, Bill Keen, according to apprehension records. His bureau did not instantly respond to an enquiry for remark astir the charges.

Republican leaders successful respective states, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, person pursued tougher rules astir voting in the aftermath of the 2020 election. On Wednesday, Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Mr. DeSantis, said, “Multiple voting is unlawful.”

She added, “It isn’t a transgression to beryllium registered to ballot successful much than 1 state, arsenic agelong arsenic you lone ballot successful one.”

Ms. Pushaw said that successful 2019, the authorities joined the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit radical that helps states amended the accuracy of elector rolls. By joining the system, she said, authorities officials could crosscheck elector registration information to find duplicate registrations and outdated records.

“Though the strategy is not perfect, it does assistance guarantee predetermination integrity and deter imaginable fraud,” she said.

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