Orange County woman accused of voter fraud says she thought her voting rights were restored

·2 min read

An Orange County woman accused of voting illegally in the 2020 election said she thought her voting rights had been restored after she served her time in prison.

Michelle Stribling is one of around 20 people arrested last month, who Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke out about in a news conference.

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

Stribling was convicted of second-degree murder in 1993, served time and was released in 2004.

Read: Orange County woman pleas not guilty to voter fraud in 2020 election charge

Many felons were made eligible to vote after Amendment 4 passed in 2018, but not murderers and those convicted of sex crimes.

Stribling said she didn’t know she did anything wrong. She told investigators she didn’t read or write very well, and believed that her rights were restored because she completed the voter registration application and received a voter registration card.

Read: Three Central Florida residents arrested for voter fraud thought their rights were restored

“There is no database that an individual can go to to determine whether their rights have been restored,” Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said.

Stribling registered to vote in December 2019 and voted in the 2020 general election, nearly a year later.

Cowles said his office wasn’t notified by the state until March of this year that Stribling isn’t eligible to vote.

Read: 3 Orange County residents among 20 arrested, charged with voter fraud in Florida

“It’s a timeline as to the process where the state is responsible for verifying the information on these individuals and then notifying us,” he said.

Channel 9 reached out to the state to ask about the process of vetting voters to look for this kind of fraud and if there are efforts to streamline things. They said they received the inquiry and will be in touch.

Meanwhile, Stribling is set to appear in court next month. She has pleaded not guilty.

Read: Central Florida election officials consider changes to early voting after surprisingly low turnout

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