On Friday, one of the 20 formerly incarcerated Floridians arrested in August by Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) Office of Election Crimes and Security on voter fraud charges has had his case dismissed.
Robert Lee Wood, 56, was arrested on Aug. 18 on one count of making a false affirmation and one count of voting as an unqualified elector, charges which can come with a penalty of up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
“I’m pleased, but not surprised,” Wood’s attorney, Larry Davis, told the Miami Herald.
The news was first reported by ABC.
The Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security was set up this year by DeSantis after myths of widespread voter fraud proliferated from the 2020 election.
Miami Circuit Court Judge Milton Hirsch found that the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor (OSP) didn’t have jurisdiction over this case because the crimes didn’t occur in at least two judicial circuits. Wood registered to vote and voted within Miami-Dade County.
State prosecutors argued that Wood’s applications and votes were transmitted to the Department of State in Tallahassee, meaning that he also committed a crime in Leon County, but the judge rejected the defense.
At no time did Wood “physically enter the Second Judicial Circuit,” nor did he transfer the ballot to that circuit himself, Hirsch writes in his order.
“Robert Lee Wood’s misconduct, if misconduct it was, consisted in registering to vote, and voting, in his county of residence,” Hirsch writes. “Yes, his voter application and his ballot were transported to another Florida jurisdiction. But they were not transported by him, nor by any putatively criminal co-perpetrator.”
He notes that since the alleged crime took place exclusively in Miami, it falls under the Miami-Dade state attorney’s jurisdiction, not the OSP.
He closes the ruling by quoting Shakespeare’s Henry VI: “His arms spread wider than a dragon’s wings.”
“How much wider even than that does OSP seek to extend its reach?” he writes. “In the case at bar the answer is simple: wider than the enabling statute contemplates, and therefore too wide.”
Read the judge’s order below:
Correction: Wood did not vote while incarcerated, as this post originally reported. We regret the error.