Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.
Two paid petition circulators in Florida are accused of submitting phony signatures for an amendment that would codify the supposed “right” to abortion in the state Constitution.
Officers arrested George Edward Andrews III, 30, of Dade City, and activated an arrest warrant for Jamie Johnson, 47, also of Dade City, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) announced on Tuesday. The pair are accused of submitting 133 invalid constitutional amendment petitions in several counties, including Sumter, Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas counties, according to the agency.
“Florida’s Constitution is a sacred document and there is a lawful method by which voters can make amendments,” Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said in a press release. “However, when criminals seek to circumvent that process fraudulently, this is an affront to Floridians and the sanctity of our laws, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that Floridians and our Constitution are protected.”
“In Florida, our elections will continue to be fair and honest,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass added. “Our FDLE inspectors will investigate every allegation of voter fraud because our elections must remain free from those willing to commit fraud at the expense of all voters.”
Andrews was booked into the Hernando County Jail and is facing ten felony counts, each of criminal use of personal identification information and signing another person’s name or a fictitious name to a petition. The arrest came after an investigation led by the FDLE’s Election Crime Unit (ECU) working with the Florida Department of State Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) and with assistance from local elections supervisors.
FDLE said additional charges may be filed pending the completion of the investigation. The cases will be prosecuted by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution along with the Office of the State Attorney, Sixth Judicial Circuit.
Floridians Protecting Freedom, a coalition of left-wing groups that includes Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, is the amendment’s main sponsor. The proposed constitutional amendment, officially titled “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” has garnered more than 996,000 signatures — 100,000 more than needed for it to appear on the ballot in November, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
The amendment would not allow any law to “prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider” but would not “change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion,” the ballot summary reads.
Moody asked the State Supreme Court to keep the measure off the ballot, citing concerns that the language of the amendment was designed to mislead voters.
The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments over the measure on Wednesday morning and has until April 1 to reject or approve the proposed language of the amendment, NBC News reported.
Activists in at least several other states are working to put abortion amendments on the ballot in 2024 after a string of state-level pro-abortion victories following the fall of Roe v. Wade — a 1973 Supreme Court decision that had, for 50 years, invented a “right” to abortion.