The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Two Florida men at The Villages admit to voter fraud in 2020 election

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait outside in a town square in The Villages, Fla., before an appearance by the president in October 2019. (Mike Schneider/AP)
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Two Florida men charged with filing ballots in two states in the 2020 presidential election confessed to voter fraud, according to court records.

Charles F. Barnes and Jay Ketcik, residents of The Villages in Sumter County, Fla., pleaded guilty to casting more than one ballot in the election. Voter fraud is a third-degree felony that can result in a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Barnes, 64, and Ketcik, 63, will be able to defer prosecution if they abide by the court-ordered requirements that State Attorney Bill Gladson set, according to pretrial intervention documents. The men will avoid further punishment if they complete 50 hours of community service, attend a 12-week adult civics class and meet regularly with a supervising officer, among a handful of other requirements.

“If you comply with these conditions during the period of deferred prosecution, no criminal prosecution concerning this charge will be instituted in this county,” Gladson wrote. “If the defendant violates the terms of this agreement, and this case is returned to the court’s docket, this document shall be admissible as an admission of guilt.”

Ketcik, a registered Republican, was among three Central Florida residents who had expressed support for former president Donald Trump before being arrested in December following reports that they cast more than one vote during the 2020 election, according to various Florida news media outlets. Barnes, who has no party affiliation, was arrested in January and faced similar charges. Both men were released from jail after paying a $2,000 bond. Neither man responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Ketcik voted by mail in Florida along with casting an absentee ballot in Michigan, prosecutors say. An arrest report shows that Barnes previously had an address in Connecticut.

According to the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Florida election officials referred 75 individuals to law enforcement agencies due to potential voter fraud in the 2020 election.

It is not a crime to be registered in more than one state, but it is unlawful to cast a ballot in multiple states. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has spoken out against voter fraud — a crime that multiple reports have shown to be rare and proposed a new state office to investigate election fraud. The governor previously declined to respond to questions about whether he thinks the 2020 election was rigged. And more than a year after the 2020 election, Trump continues to make false claims that his loss to President Biden was the result of widespread voter fraud, allegations that have been debunked by numerous courts and state reviews.