FDLE: Pensacola sex offender unlawfully cast 2020 ballot, filled out 4 voting applications

Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agents arrested a Pensacola sex offender Nov. 22 for illegally voting in the 2020 presidential election and filling out multiple voter registration applications between 2020 and 2022.

On Nov. 1, 2022, the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections provided documents to FDLE that showed 41-year-old Michael DeWayne Collins completed and signed a Florida voter registration application on Aug. 27, 2020; Sept. 8, 2021; July 14, 2022; and Oct. 4 2022, and a voting history report showed Collins voted on Nov. 3, 2020, in the 2020 general election.

He was charged with four counts of false swearing of voter registration information and one count of unqualified electors willfully voting, according to an FDLE arrest affidavit.

Voters line up in Navarre to cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Voters line up in Navarre to cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

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Collins, who is a registered sex offender, was convicted for lewd and lascivious battery of a person between 12 and 16 years old in 2001, leading to his civil right to vote being stripped, but Collins told authorities that he "received a letter from an unknown group/organization" in 2019 that said he was eligible to vote.

The letter was not from the State of Florida, according to the affidavit, and he was unable to produce the letter. He also acknowledged he never petitioned Florida to have his rights restored.

During an interview with FDLE, Collins said he completed the two voter registration applications in 2020 and 2021, but said he thought his right to vote was restored. Even though he believed he could vote, Collins told FDLE in the same interview he received a letter from the Supervisor of Elections in February 2022 "that said something about his voting rights being messed up and he needed to contact them."

"During the second interview, Collins acknowledged he completed and signed the voter registration application dated July 14, 2022," the arrest affidavit stated. "Collins did not remember completing and signing the voter registration application dated Oct. 10, 2022, however, Collins acknowledged that the handwriting and signature on the application was his."

Collins said he filled out a voter application because he forgot he received letters from the Supervisor of Elections on Feb. 2, 2022 and May 2, 2022, stating he was ineligible to vote, according to the affidavit.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - AUGUST 18: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Governor announced during the press conference that the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security has uncovered and are in the process of arresting 20 individuals across the state for voter fraud. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** ORG XMIT: 775859207 ORIG FILE ID: 1415663017
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - AUGUST 18: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Governor announced during the press conference that the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security has uncovered and are in the process of arresting 20 individuals across the state for voter fraud. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** ORG XMIT: 775859207 ORIG FILE ID: 1415663017

Collins is one of many in Florida who have been charged with election-fraud-related crimes since Gov. Ron DeSantis launched the Office of Election Crimes and Security on July 1. 

On Aug. 11, DeSantis held a press conference in Broward County and announced the arrest of 20 convicted felons from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Orange counties who allegedly voted illegally in the 2020 General Election.

"They did not go through the process, they did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyway," DeSantis said.

Some Democrats have derided the governor's announcement as political theater and "voter intimidation." The 20 alleged illegal voters represent a tiny fraction of the 11 million Floridians who voted in the 2020 election.

In the 2018 General Election, Floridians voted to for State Amendment 4, which allows those convicted of felony murder or sex offenses to apply for reinstated voting rights to the State Clemency Board as long as all of the following have been completed:

  • prison or jail time

  • parole, probation or other forms of supervision

  • payment of total amount of all fines, fees, costs and restitution

The State Clemency Board told FDLE that there was no record of Collins having his civil rights restored, and even though he was last released in March 2018, Collins still owed $5,300 in court fines and other obligations, according to the arrest affidavit.

According to court records, the State Attorney's Office has not filed a case for Collins' most recent fraud charges. The News Journal reached out to the State Attorney's Office, but did not receive a response Monday.

Collins was released from Escambia County Jail Nov. 24 on $12,500 bond.

Benjamin Johnson can be reached at bjohnson@pnj.com or 850-435-8578

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Pensacola sex offender charged with 5 counts of election fraud