Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said the state will appeal a judge’s ruling last week that dismissed an arrest made by the governor’s new election security unit.
As The Free Press reported, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch tossed the state’s case against Robert Lee Wood of Miami on technical grounds.
Wood faced two election-law felonies as being among the first 20 people arrested under the mandate of the new unit. The 56-year-old was charged with registering as an unqualified voter and falsely voting.
Wood filled out a voter application form in Miami-Dade County in September 2020. The form was sent to the Florida secretary of state’s office in Tallahassee, which verified the application and issued Wood a voter ID. Wood subsequently voted in the November 2020 election. His ballot was eventually counted in Tallahassee as well because the state sends ballots there.
Wood’s attorney argued that prosecutors had no jurisdiction to charge the suspect.
Hirsch agreed and dismissed the case after noting that Wood was being prosecuted by the Office of the Statewide Prosecution, or OSP, and not local authorities in Miami-Dade County.
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That matters, said Hirsch, because the OSP’s work is to tackle cases that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
“Thus the issue before me is not whether Mr. Wood committed the crimes charged, nor even whether he is amenable to prosecution for the crimes charged,” Hirsch ruled. “The very narrow issue raised by the present motion is whether Mr. Wood is amenable to prosecution by OSP for the crimes charged.”
“Yes, his voter application and his ballot were transported to another Florida jurisdiction. But they were not transported by him, nor by any putatively criminal co-perpetrator,” Hirsch wrote. “They were not transported by someone whose role in Mr. Wood’s crime was to transport them. They were not transported at Mr. Wood’s behest or bidding.”
“I am willing to construe the prosecutorial authority of the statewide prosecutor to the very limits of the statutory language creating that authority — to those limits, and not a jot further.”
The judge’s jot aside, DeSantis’ office said it will appeal because voting really affects all Floridians.
“We disagree with the court’s jurisdictional ruling and intend to appeal. Given that elections violations of this nature impact all Florida voters, elections officials, state government, and the integrity of our republic, we continue to view the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution as the appropriate agency to prosecute these crimes,” said Bryan Griffin, the governor’s spokesman.
“The state will continue to enforce the law and ensure that murderers and rapists who are not permitted to vote do not unlawfully do so. Florida will not be a state in which elections are left vulnerable or cheaters unaccountable.”
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