TAMPA, Fla. — Shock and bewilderment over Florida’s voting laws play out as a consistent theme in newly released arrest videos, where law enforcement took several convicted Hillsborough County felons into custody as part of the state’s new Election Crimes and Security unit.
"Y'all put me in jail for something I didn't even know nothing about," said Tony Patterson as officers with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Tampa Police Department took him into custody the morning of Aug. 18.
It was the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state arrested 20 people across Florida for illegally voting in the 2020 election. Those arrested are either convicted murderers or sex offenders. Six were from Hillsborough County.
Arresting officers on Aug. 18 reminded him of serving his time for the latter.
Body camera video shows Patterson expressing confusion over how voting ended up with him in police custody. Again.
“Why would y’all let me vote if I wasn’t able to vote?” Patterson asked one of the arresting officers from the back of a TPD cruiser. “And then, why now? This happened years ago. Why now? Why me?”
According to state law, the Department of State Division of Elections is supposed to notify the local supervisors of elections offices with lists of who is unable to vote due to felony convictions.
Gerri Kramer, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections told 10 Investigates in August her office follows legal protocol to remove voters from the rolls upon receipt of that list.
However, Kramer said her office did not get a notification the six from Hillsborough County were ineligible to vote until after the 2020 election. In some cases, the notification took more than a year.
She says this explains why those arrested and accused of voter fraud may have received voter registration cards.
The process confounded Romona Brown Oliver, who told officers on camera as she stated her name she had just gotten married.
“Voter fraud? I voted, but I ain’t commit no fraud,” she said.
Legal experts say to convict those arrested on voter fraud charges, prosecutors will have to prove they intentionally tried to deceive the system and based on the evidence, that could be tough to prove.
Cases for each of the six arrested in Hillsborough County are now moving forward in court.
Editor’s note: Redactions to officers’ faces made in these videos were not made by 10 Tampa Bay.