Former Minneapolis officer charged in George Floyd’s death accused of voting illegally in Florida

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd voted illegally in two elections, a Florida attorney says.

Dan Helm, candidate for Pinellas County supervisor of elections, claims Chauvin – who now faces murder charges in Minnesota – committed fraud in Florida.

“This is an instance of voter fraud and so when we see it, we need to recognize it, we need to call it out,” said Helm. “Florida is decided by razor-thin margins, every single vote counts.”

Florida election officials confirm Chauvin is currently registered to vote in Orange County. The 44-year-old took part in early voting in both the 2016 and 2018 General Elections.

Records show the disgraced former officer does own property near Orlando.

The question: Does having house in Florida mean you’re a legal resident entitled to vote in the state?

Helm says the evidence in this case suggests the answer is no.

“Windermere is not his home, so he shouldn’t be voting in our elections in Florida,” said Helm. “Everything that I saw about this individual showed that he was in Minnesota, he lived in Minnesota, he intends Minnesota to be his home.”

Multiple election experts said this is a fact-specific inquiry.

“You’re going to be looking at the totality of the circumstances,” said George Levesque, an attorney at GrayRobinson in Tallahassee.

Levesque has practiced election law for a decade. He also served as general counsel for the Florida House of Representatives and, most recently, as general counsel to the Florida Senate.

Legal residency is not clearly defined in Florida law. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you spend most of your time.

In determining if Chauvin legally voted in Florida, a court would likely look at whether he had a driver’s license, paid bills and claimed homestead in the state. Intent is key.

“It’s going to vary from situation to situation. Really what they’re trying to do is get what is in the head of that person and what are they really thinking about where they intended to reside,” said Levesque.

Multiple experts said it’s unclear how a court would potentially rule in the case. Much about Chauvin’s voting record is still unknown.

Chauvin’s attorney declined to comment.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala issued the following statement:

“Investigations related to voter fraud and other election crimes are triggered by the Supervisor of Elections, not the State Attorney. I have been in touch with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowels who confirmed Derek Chauvin is registered to vote in Orange County and did vote in 2016 and 2018.

Upon receipt of information from a Minnesota authority that supports a violation of Florida law, we will proceed accordingly.

Until then, I will remain focused on the unrest in my community recently triggered by Mr. Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd and work to find a solution to the systemic injustice communities of color continue to live with and die by.”

Bill Cowles, the Supervisor of Elections in Orange County released the following statement:

“This office has received inquiries regarding reports that Derek Chauvin has voted in Orange County, Florida. As a result of those requests, we have reviewed Mr. Chauvin’s voting history and confirmed that Mr. Chauvin is currently registered to vote in Orange County and voted during Early Voting in both the 2016 and 2018 General Elections. He is registered as a member of the Republican Party.

While we can confirm the factual data regarding his election status, we cannot confirm any details regarding his residency other than his affirmation, under oath, that he was an Orange County resident at the time of his registration and at the times he presented himself to vote in Orange County. Residency is not technically defined within the Florida Statutes. That said, the Division of Elections has advised Florida’s Supervisors of Elections that legal residency exists at the location a person intends to make his or her permanent residence. Determination of intent of legal residency is not a matter the Supervisor of Elections can investigate, nor does a Supervisor possess investigative powers. That power rests with the State Attorney’s Office. State Attorney Ayala gave a statement and was quoted as saying, “Upon receipt of information from a Minnesota authority that supports a violation of Florida law, we will proceed accordingly.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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