Civics classes, community service for voter fraud suspects

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Two men from a sprawling Florida retirement community will have to participate in a pretrial intervention program, perform community service and attend adult civics classes in exchange for deferred prosecution for voting more than once in the 2020 election.

Charles Barnes and Jay Ketcik, both from The Villages area, must complete 50 hours of community service each and earn a grade of C or better in the adult civics class, according to court filings filed last week.

In exchange, State’s Attorney William Gladson will postpone prosecution for casting more than one ballot in an election.

The men were among four people from the Republican stronghold of retirement community The Villages arrested late last year and early this year on charges of voter fraud.

During the last legislative session, Republican lawmakers passed an election policing bill pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, who justified its need by citing cases of fraud not specified. DeSantis echoed many of the talking points about voting issues that gained traction in the GOP after former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his re-election was stolen from him.

Jill E. Washington