A Miami judge has dismissed election fraud charges brought against a Florida man who was accused by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of voting illegally in the 2020 election.
Judge Milton Hirsch dismissed the case against Robert Lee Wood,56, on Friday. Wood was facing one count of making a false affirmation on his voter application and a separate count of voting as an unqualified elector. He was facing up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fees and fines.
Wood was one of 20 people DeSantis announced charges against in August for allegedly violating Florida’s voting law by casting a ballot in the election despite being convicted of murder or felony sex offenses. Several of those charged have said they did not know they couldn’t vote and were not informed of that fact until after they had already cast their ballot.
While announcing the charges DeSantis slammed local prosecutors for failing to prosecute election fraud charges.
“Now we have the ability with the attorney general and statewide prosecutor to bring those on behalf of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at the time, according to ABC News.
However, Judge Hirsch said Friday that the statewide prosecutor does not have jurisdiction over the alleged offense in Miami. For the statewide prosecutor to have jurisdiction, the crimes alleged must have occurred in at least two judicial circuits.
“That plenary power — the power to invigilate all Florida elections, whether federal, state, or municipal — is not consigned to OSP by (statute) 16.56,” Judge Hirsch wrote in his ruling.
“His arms spread wider than a dragon’s wings. How much wider even than that does [the Statewide Prosecutor] seek to extend its reach?” the judge added. “It is an old truth that all politics is local. [The Statewide Prosecutor] seeks to stand that old truth on it’s head”
The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization helping to restore the rights of returning citizens, praised the judge’s ruling in a statement.
“This strengthens our resolve to continue to place people over politics and honor the commitment we made to the 1.4 million people impacted by Amendment 4, who should be enjoying the opportunity to fully participate in our democracy,” the organization said. “The decision is a step in the right direction in our continuing fight for election integrity and Florida’s returning citizens.”
The statewide prosecutor can still appeal the decision.