A 20-year-old Florida man was arrested Oct. 27 for allegedly altering Gov. Ron DeSantis’s primary residence in the state’s voter database and thereby changing his voting location.
DeSantis, a Republican, alerted police after he went to cast his ballot and was told by a poll worker that his address didn’t match the one in the statewide voter registration system. His new address, according to the system, was in West Palm Beach, where the governor doesn’t maintain a residence.
An investigation led the police to the Naples, Florida, home of Anthony Steven Guevara, whose computer was presumably used to send the request to change DeSantis’s address, according to the voter registration system’s timestamp logs. Guevara was arrested on felony charges of unauthorized access of a computer and altering a voter registration without consent.
Florida police said in a statement that they believe Guevara also accessed the voter registrations of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and NBA stars Michael Jordan and LeBron James, but made no changes.
Florida’s online voter registration system requires users to enter a series of personal identifying information, including name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and Social Security number. The police didn’t specify how Guevara obtained that information or whether he was able to bypass the requirement to tamper with a voter’s information on file.
Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, whose office operates the voter registration system, said in a statement that the computer systems are secure and voters should have confidence in their integrity.
“This incident was perpetrated using publicly accessible voter data, and there is no evidence to suggest that this change was made through the Florida Department of State,” Lee said. “We commend the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on their swift action to bringing this malicious actor to justice. The situation was corrected immediately and the voter was able to cast a ballot.”
The FBI said last week that both Russia and Iran have obtained voter registration data and are on a campaign to undermine American voters’ confidence in the election. However, FBI Director Chris Wray said that their access to voter registration data doesn’t mean they can alter votes.
“We’ve been working for years as a community to build resilience in our election infrastructure, and today that infrastructure remains resilient,” Wray said at a press conference. “You should be confident that your vote counts.”
In a joint statement, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) urged voters to be cautious about “unverified, sensational claims” related to votes and voting.
“Our adversaries abroad seek to sow chaos and undermine voters’ belief in our democratic institutions, including the election systems and infrastructure that we rely on to record and properly report expressions of the voters’ will,” Rubio and Warner wrote. “They may seek to target those systems, or simply leave the impression that they have altered or manipulated those systems, in order to undermine their credibility and our confidence in them.”