Florida The Villages residents accused of voter fraud in 2020 election after DeSantis pledges crackdown

Florida The Villages residents accused of voter fraud in 2020 election after DeSantis pledges crackdown

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Three residents of Florida retirement home The Villages were arrested on charges of voting more than once in the 2020 election, just weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged to create a police force dedicated to election crimes. 

The three residents were arrested over the past two weeks, and each charged with casting more than one ballot in the 2020 election following complaints filed by the Sumter County Supervisor of Elections.

 Photo of three Florida The Villages residents arrested for voter fraud. Sumter County and Brevard County sheriff's offices

 Photo of three Florida The Villages residents arrested for voter fraud. Sumter County and Brevard County sheriff’s offices

Jay Ketcik, 63, was arrested last week on a charge of third-degree felony fraud.

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Joan Halstead, 71, was arrested two weeks ago for voting in person in Florida and by absentee ballot in New York during the 2020 election, according to an arrest report. 

Both Ketcik and Halstead entered not guilty pleas and records show they both intend to attack “the sufficiency” of the charges.

John Rider, 61, was also arrested at the beginning of the month on a similar charge, but an arrest report did not say why he was facing the charge.

Ketcik and Halstead are registered Republicans, according to online records. Rider does not have a party affiliation. 

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DeSantis pledged on Nov. 3 to create a Florida police force dedicated to election crimes.

The Villages retirement community in Florida is one of the nation's largest with over 100,000 residents (Robert Sherman, Fox News).

The Villages retirement community in Florida is one of the nation’s largest with over 100,000 residents (Robert Sherman, Fox News).

“We are going to create a separate office at the state level solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election crimes in the state of Florida. We’ll [have] sworn law enforcement officers as part of this, we’ll have investigators, we’ll have the statewide prosecutor that’s able to bring the cases,” DeSantis said at a West Palm Beach event in November. 

“I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that,” he added. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at the Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The state of Florida is suing the Biden administration over its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The lawsuit was announced Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 by Gov. DeSantis and opened yet another battleground between the Republican governor and the White House. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at the Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The state of Florida is suing the Biden administration over its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The lawsuit was announced Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 by Gov. DeSantis and opened yet another battleground between the Republican governor and the White House.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, file)

He also vowed to crack down on ballot harvesting by increasing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, and to tighten restrictions on drop boxes. 

“I don’t even think we should have drop boxes,” said DeSantis.

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DeSantis has been floated as a 2024 presidential candidate, following widespread Republican support for his handling of the pandemic, most notably in the last year under the Biden administration. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.