The head of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new statewide elections police is opening a new front in the war on voter fraud, according to emails shared with City & State Florida.
Pete Antonacci, head of the Office of Election Crimes and Security, recently sent State Attorney Jack Campbell – the Tallahassee region’s top prosecutor – a list of 22 convicted sex offenders, saying all of them voted illegally in the November 2020 general election.
The Aug. 15 email and list – shared with City & State by anti-fraud activist Mark Glaeser – suggest they reside in the counties of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties. Antonacci sent information packets, including conviction records, voter registration documents and voting records, according to his email.
“Please call with any questions….Thanks for your attention to these matters corrupting our vote….” Antonacci told Campbell, who responded, “Thanks Pete.. We will work on it…”
Campbell further told him he was assigning two of his office’s veteran prosecutors – Owen McCaul and Eddie Evans – to look into the cases, adding, “Please let me know what else we can do to help.”
Campbell told City & State that he couldn’t comment on a “pending criminal investigation,” but added he would wait on his staff’s “investigation before making any decision on charging.”
Antonacci’s communication with Campbell happened three days before a press conference in which DeSantis, Antonacci and others announced the arrest of an initial group of ex-cons convicted of sex offenses or murder who voted in 2020. Notably, the governor promised there would be more arrests.
Several of those already charged with illegal voting, however, say they didn’t know they broke the law, claiming they got bad information about their eligibility to vote when they registered.
Meantime, Democrats – including the now-Democratic nominee for governor Charlie Crist – have criticized the arrests as an intimidation tactic by DeSantis. “This is about playing politics, intimidating Democratic voters, and his desire to run for president, not securing elections,” he said in a statement after DeSantis’ press conference announcing the arrests.
Citizen investigator has been ferreting out voter fraud
But Antonacci, a lawyer and longtime “fix it” man for Florida governors, is following in Glaeser’s footsteps when it comes to ferreting out voter fraud. For months, the Alachua County resident and retired data researcher has been on the trail of felons illegally casting ballots in the state.
Earlier this year, he uncovered 10 Alachua County jail inmates who he says illegally voted. He told City & State he has compared name, date of birth and address records of sex offenders in 11 counties with voting records since December 2021.
Glaeser says he has so far found 120 sex offenders who voted in the 2020 election. In January, he sent a list of names he found in Gadsden County to the Office of the Supervisor of Elections there.
According to further emails he shared, Gadsden County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Kenya Ponder Williams wrote him in August 2022 that they had investigated and removed those individuals from their voter rolls and referred the matter to the state’s Division of Elections.
All 22 people on the list provided to Jack Campbell by Antonacci were on Glaeser’s list.
But Glaeser did not stop with Gadsden County. He shared correspondence he had with seven other county supervisor of elections offices in Alachua, Leon, Sumter, Marion, Orange, Duval and Seminole counties about sex offenders who voted there.
He filed a complaint about six residents in Seminole County in March that has since resulted in four of them being charged with election fraud. On Aug. 11, he identified 21 sex offenders voting to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, 18 more than those charged last week.
On Aug. 2, Duval Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan confirmed in an email to Glaeser that 20 people on his voter rolls he identified were removed because of previous convictions.
Glaeser said it would have been easy for the Department of State or Supervisor of Elections offices across the state to have poked around.
“The concerning thing to me is that a private citizen has to put their name out there, but the people that are getting paid to do their job, they did next to nothing,” he told City & State. “The people who were getting paid to protect us and safeguard the voter rolls and the databases were totally asleep at the wheel.”
A request for comment is pending with Mark Ard, a spokesperson for Antonacci, whose office is under the Department of State. Secretary of State Cord Byrd is the state’s chief elections officer.
Glaeser obtained the emails between Antonacci and Campbell after a public records request. To him, Antonacci’s moves show that the state is beginning to investigate voter fraud in ways they should have done months ago.
All of the 20 charged last week were in predominantly Democratic counties. About 80% of registered voters in Gadsden are Democrats.