3 residents of The Villages arrested for voting multiple times in 2020 election

SUMTER COUNTY, Florida. – Three residents of The Villages were recently arrested in connection with an ongoing voter fraud investigation, according to court records.

Jay Ketcik, Joan Halstead and John Rider are each charged with casting more than one ballot in an election, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The investigation into allegations of voting irregularities was launched by the office of Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Bill Keen, according to prosecutors. Keen declined to comment on the cases, citing the ongoing investigation.

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Ketcik, 63, is accused of voting by mail in Florida in October 2020 while voting by mail in his home state of Michigan, according to court records.

Halstead, 71, voted in person in Florida but also voted by mail in New York, prosecutors say.

Ketcik and Halstead went to the Sumter County Jail with outstanding warrants, according to court records.

Rider, 61, was arrested by Brevard County deputies at the Royal Caribbean cruise ship terminal in Port Canaveral on Dec. 3, court records show. Details of the charges against him were not immediately available, but prosecutors said he also voted out of state and in Florida.

Ketcik, Halstead and Rider could not immediately be reached for comment. Nothing in the court records indicates that they know each other.

Court records also do not reveal which candidates they voted for in the 2020 general election.

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All three were registered as Republicans in Florida at the time of the election, according to voter registration records.

Rider’s voter registration appears to have been changed to No Party Affiliation at the time of his arrest, according to state records.

The Facebook pages that appear to belong to Ketcik and Halstead contain several posts expressing support for former President Donald Trump.

“Multiple voting is illegal,” said Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Governor Ron DeSantis. “It’s not a crime to be registered to vote in more than one state, as long as you only vote in one.”

Pushaw noted that in 2019, Florida joined the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit that helps states improve the accuracy of voter rolls.

“By joining ERIC, Florida has gained the ability to cross-reference voter registration data with 30 other member states to identify duplicate registrations and outdated records of voters who have moved or died, which has led to cleaner and more accurate voter registration lists,” Pushaw said. . “While the system is not perfect, it helps to ensure the integrity of elections and deter potential fraud.”

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DeSantis is proposing a new state office to investigate voter fraud.

The Florida Secretary of State recently created a new Election Integrity webpage where citizens can report voter fraud.

Despite recent arrests in Sumter County, very few Central Floridians have been prosecuted for multiple voting, a News 6 review of court data reveals.

Between 2000 and 2020, there were no prosecutions for this law in Brevard, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties, according to court data.

Volusia and Orange county prosecutors filed charges in just two cases during that same two-decade span.

In 2017, Alba Esperanza Fernandez was sentenced to four years of supervised probation after pleading no contest to submitting false voter registration information and voting multiple times in Volusia County under two different names.

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That same year, prosecutors dropped charges against an Orange County woman accused of voting in Florida and North Carolina after the accused participated in a pretrial diversion program, court records show. .

Historical court data for other Central Florida counties was not immediately available.

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