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3 residents of The Villages charged with voter fraud

Despite these alleged cases and claims by politicians, research and reporting have shown voter fraud is rare.
Credit: Sheriffs offices: Brevard and Sumter counties
Joan Halstead, 71; Jay Ketcik, 63; and John Rider, 60

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Three residents of The Villages are accused of casting multiple votes in the 2020 election, court records and media reports show.

Joan Halstead, 72; Jay Ketcik, 63; and John Rider, 61, are each charged with casting more than one ballot in any election, a third-degree felony. They could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

WKMG-TV reports the investigation into voting irregularities began with the Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Bill Keen.

According to court documents, Halstead has an address in The Villages and voted in person in Florida on Oct. 20, 2020. She's accused of also voting absentee on a second ballot in New York.

Ketcik also has a Villages address and voted by mail on Oct. 13, 2020, in Florida, the documents show. It's alleged he cast a second ballot in Michigan via absentee.

Both Halstead and Ketcik turned themselves in at the Sumter County Detention Center.

Rider was arrested at the Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida, on Dec. 3, Brevard County court records show. Details of his arrest or where he might have cast a second ballot are not yet known but he, too, is charged with casting more than one ballot in any election.

Florida Department of State voter records shows Halstead and Ketcik are registered Republicans, while Rider has no party affiliation. It's not known who each person voted for in the 2020 election.

Even with these alleged cases, there are very few actual cases of voter fraud across the country — research and reporting have shown it is not widespread despite some politicians' claims. "Voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent, and many instances of alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators," according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Despite this, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in November proposed creating a new state-level office to investigate election crimes in Florida. The state has an "elections integrity" page where potential cases of fraud can be submitted.

There was no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in the 2020 presidential election despite claims by former President Donald Trump and his supporters, cybersecurity experts said.

After the 2020 election, DeSantis lauded the state's performance and praised elections officials for counting nearly 11 million ballots. He asked of others still counting votes past Election Day, "Why can't these states be more like Florida?"

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