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Attorneys need Ron DeSantis to testify in voter registration meddling case

Defense attorneys for a Collier County man accused of interfering with Governor Ron DeSantis’s voter record demand that a judge see the governor as a witness.

Anthony Steven Guevara, 20, of Golden Gate is accused of changing DeSantis’s address on the state’s voter database. The change briefly halted the governor when he tried to vote in the 2020 general election in Tallahassee.

Previous reporting:DeSantis tries to vote and learns that someone has hacked their information

Anthony Steven Guevara

A motion asking the court to enforce a summons for DeSantis as a witness was filed on Monday by Guevara’s defense team.

Guevara has been charged with unauthorized access to a computer and altering a voter registration without consent, both crimes.

Mike Carr, a Naples attorney representing Guevara, said his client had the right to confront his accuser.

Prosecutors are trying to move the case forward without harassing the governor and putting him on the stand, Carr said.

“Our constitution gives us the right to confront our accuser,” said Carr. “I’m a Republican myself and I like the governor, but that’s not the point. We are a nation of law, not of people. There are no special laws for the governor. ”

Prosecutors listed the governor as a victim in the case, but removed him from their list of witnesses as requested by Carr.

Carr reached out to the district attorney as well as the governor’s acting attorney general to ask how the governor would prefer to receive a subpoena, but according to the motion, he received no response.

The subpoena asked the governor to contact one of the defense attorneys upon receipt so that he or she could give him instructions on when to appear in court as per the request.

DeSantis was served the subpoena by registered mail on January 25, but has not yet responded, according to the motion.

The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment until this story was published.

Samantha Syoen, the prosecutor’s communications director for the Twentieth Judicial Circle, said her law firm had examined the defense’s motion and would argue that it should be rejected by the court.

“We believe that the defendant’s subpoena is legally inadequate and null and void,” Syoen said via email.

Prosecutors will submit a written response to the request by the end of the week, Syoen said.

The arrest

Leon County polling officer Mark Earley said the change to DeSantis’ address in the voter database was not the result of some sophisticated hack.

Guevara accessed a low-security voting portal to change the address, Earley said. More secure portals require information that is difficult to access, such as social security and driver’s license numbers.

Guevara logged on to the Florida State Department website, entered the governor’s date of birth (obtained from a Wikipedia search), and changed his address to a house in West Palm Beach, according to the Florida Department of Law.

DeSantis immediately updated his address and was allowed to vote.

“I think there was minimal inconvenience,” Earley said. “Sure there were concerns.”

DeSantis contacted the FDLE immediately after learning of the change of address, investigators said.

Law enforcement discovered Guevara’s address by finding the IP address of the computer that made the change, according to the FDLE.

Guevara has no criminal record, exposed a weakness in the state’s voter registration system and apologized via a letter to the governor, Carr said.

“I just want to see that my customer is treated fairly. Let me tell you, a fair solution in this case would have been a distraction, ”said Carr. “He may be looking at 10 years in prison. Basically, it’s because he insulted the governor, who was molested for about two minutes. ”

Guevara’s trial is scheduled for April 26 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Joseph Foster at the Collier Circuit. It is unclear when the judge will rule on the motion to force DeSantis as a witness.

His goal isn’t to make life difficult for DeSantis or anyone else, but he wants to make sure his client is treated fairly, Carr said.

“The law should be the same whether you are powerful or weak,” said Carr. “The law should be absolutely neutral and treat people equally. This is what this country is based on and that’s what we’re fighting for. ”

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