FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A third case of a defendant arrested by an electoral police unit created by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a Republican-controlled Florida legislature has been dismissed.
Terry Hubbard, 63, was among 20 people arrested last August on criminal charges related to illegal voting in 2020, in what was the first major action by Republicans’ controversial new Bureau on Election Crimes and Security.
A Broward County judge this week dismissed the case, saying the Office of Statewide Prosecution doesn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute because it can only prosecute crimes committed in two or more counties. Two other cases were dismissed for similar reasons.
The election policing unit drew widespread criticism from Democrats and suffrage groups, who feared it would serve as a political tool for the governor.
The arrests of the 20 defendants last August were aimed at people convicted of murder or a sex offense who were exempt from a constitutional amendment giving back voting rights to some serious criminals. Most of the defendants were from Broward, Miami-Dade or Palm Beach counties, all Democratic strongholds.
DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential nominee, has urged state lawmakers to set up the Election Police Unit to address concerns about voter fraud that have proliferated in the GOP following former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his reelection was stolen.
Voter fraud is rare, typically occurs in isolated cases and is usually uncovered. An Associated Press investigation into the 2020 presidential election found fewer than 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in the six states where Trump and his allies contested his loss to Democratic President Joe Biden. DeSantis previously praised Florida for running the 2020 election smoothly.
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