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Bodycam Footage Of Black Floridians Being Arrested At Gunpoint For Voting Sparks Outrage

Video from August shows heavily armed police officers approaching the homes of two unarmed Black men who were accused of voter fraud and handcuffing them.

Twitter screenshots of bodycam footage showing the arrests of Ronald Miller and Robert Wood

Video from August 2022 shows heavily armed Florida police officers approaching the homes of two unarmed Black men who were accused of voter fraud and handcuffing them.

Officers were acting in response to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on voter fraud when they arrested Ronald Miller and Robert Wood in front of their Miami-Dade county homes on August 18, 2022. Both men were in their underwear, unarmed and placed in handcuffs.

Miller can be heard asking officers to let him put on his pants as he opened the door and police officers instructed him to step outside. As Wood was placed in handcuffs, he told officers he had been "asleep" when they said he had taken a long time to answer his door.

You can see the footage for yourself below.

Miller and Wood were both convicted of second-degree murder more than 30 years ago and, per Florida law, lost their voting rights after their convictions.

They completed their sentences long ago and said they'd registered to vote after being approached by canvassers, adding they were unaware they'd been permanently barred from voting.

Prosecutors disagreed however, claiming Miller and Wood knew they were ineligible to vote yet registered anyway.

The fact police officers arrived heavily armed to arrest them for non-violent crimes prompted Blair Bowie, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center who specializes in voting rights issues for people with felonies, to observe "that kind of force and show of force and drama is not justified on the basis of their past crimes."

Larry Davis, Wood’s lawyer, also said the police department's use of force was out of proportion, noting that Wood had consented to a voluntary interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) just 10 days before officers came to his door with their guns.

The two men were arrested as part of a larger operation that resulted in the arrests of 19 people accused of voter fraud, which came together mere hours before DeSantis held a press conference announcing the charges.

Voting rights advocates have condemned these actions on the grounds that they are designed to intimidate people from exercising their right to vote.

Daniel Tilley, the legal director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the arrests "a grotesque abuse of power":

“This isn’t bringing a gun to a knife fight, it’s bringing a gun to a voter registration card fight. It’s an unbelievably grotesque abuse of power. It’s designed not just to stop those who might be ineligible, but not know it. But it’s also designed to intimidate voters who may be eligible to vote.”

Although Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment lifting the state’s lifetime voting ban for most people with felonies in 2018, Florida Republicans later undercut that victory when they approved a law mandating those with felonies to repay any money they owed before they could vote again.

However, it is "extremely difficult" for those with criminal histories to comply with that requirement, according to The Guardian, because Florida "does not have a centralized system to determine how much they owe," thereby making it much harder for them to figure out if they are eligible to vote.

Many have been outraged since the footage of Wood and Miller's was made public following The Guardian's public records request.

False allegations of voter fraud have become a favorite conservative talking point over the last few years, particularly after former Republican President Donald Trump spent much of his term casting doubt on the integrity of the 2020 general election and since then has repeatedly and falsely declared it was stolen.

But even though many of Trump's supporters have embraced these allegations—despite the lack of any credible evidence—no evidence of widespread voter fraud has ever been uncovered and voter fraud itself, electoral experts and political scientists say, is actually quite rare.

The majority of voter fraud cases have involved Republicans like Jason T. Schofield, an elections commissioner in upstate New York who pled guilty to fraudulently obtaining and filing absentee ballots, the second conviction in a probe spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the harvesting of absentee ballots in elections over the past two years.