Investigators have uncovered more possible evidence of fraudulent votes in the area known as The Villages in Florida.
Three residents of the retirement community were arrested last week for casting additional ballots, but it is unknown who those votes were for, and investigators now believe it may be the tip of the iceberg, The Sun-Sentinel reported.
So far three residents of the sprawling Villages retirement community have been charged with voting more than once in last year’s presidential election. Lake County has turned over another six possible cases to state prosecutors for further investigation, and Osceola County flagged seven problematic votes.
Voter fraud is rare, and the tiny number of potentially fraudulent votes out of the more than 10 million cast in Florida wouldn’t have changed the results.
But election officials say they want to send a message to anyone thinking of voting more than once in an election. Florida is home to a large number of seasonal residents with multiple addresses who could try to mail in a ballot in one state and vote in person in another.
“You commit fraud in the state of Florida, and we will do everything possible to catch and charge you,” Florida Supervisors of Elections’ Association President Wesley Wilcox said. “One of the benefits of charging these people is it’s a deterrent. It may take me a year to catch you, but I will catch you.”
It is perfectly legal to be registered to vote in Florida and another state, as some people have vacation homes where they spend months of the year. But what is not legal is voting in more than one place in a federal election.
“It isn’t a crime to be registered to vote in more than one state, as long as you only vote in one,” Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
“It isn’t a crime to be registered to vote in more than one state, as long as you only vote in one,” she said.
Jay Ketcik, 63, Joan Halstead, 72, and John Rider, 61, have been arrested recently and charged with voting in Florida and in northern states.
“If you vote in Florida and I think you voted somewhere else, I am going to turn you in,” Lake County, Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays said. “If one person votes in two different places, that is one person too many.”
The New York Times reported.
Mr. Ketcik and Ms. Halstead turned themselves in to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center on Nov. 29 and Dec. 8, according to the sheriff’s office. Mr. Rider was arrested by Brevard County deputies at a cruise ship terminal at Port Canaveral on Dec. 3, according to prosecutors.
It was not clear whether the three residents knew each other. Each was booked into a detention center or jail and released the same day of their arrest, records show.
A probable cause affidavit said that, in addition to casting more than one vote in Florida in October 2020, Ms. Halstead and Mr. Rider also cast second ballots in New York through an absentee ballot. Mr. Ketcik was also accused of voting through mail in Florida and casting a second, absentee ballot in Michigan.
The investigation into allegations of voter fraud by Mr. Ketcik, Ms. Halstead and Mr. Rider was initiated by the office of the Sumter County supervisor of elections, Bill Keen, according to arrest records. His office did not immediately respond to an inquiry for comment about the charges.
Trump won the state handily and the fraudulent votes, if proven, would not have effected the outcome of the election in the state or nationally.