Ben Crump Joins Fight To Get Voter Fraud Charges Dropped Against Black Florida Woman
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump is joining the defense team of Marsha Ervin, the Black woman charged with voter fraud in Tallahassee, Florida, CNN reported.
Ervin, 69, was arrested on Sept. 29 in Tallahassee at 3 a.m. after being accused of voting while still on probation, in the 2020 general and 2022 primary elections, after being released from prison in 2018 for a felony conviction. In 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law creating a police force solely to investigate election crimes and increase penalties for state election law violations.
Ervin’s legal team pointed out the confusion in the legislation that explained when residents with former felony convictions can actually vote. During a press conference on Oct. 10, Ben Crump described the tactic as “voter intimidation” and said the law will have a “chilling effect” on other voters.
“There is no other evidence that she had the intent to commit fraud,” Ervin’s attorney, Mutaqee Akbar, said.
“To a layman, completion of a sentence means when you are released from custody. She had no idea that she needed to complete her probation as well in order to vote.”
According to an arrest affidavit, the Tallahassee native finalized her voter registration application in September 2020 and received a voter information card in October 2020, along with a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2022 primary election. The investigator who interviewed her in October 2022 said Ervin mentioned that “she believed she was allowed to vote because she was told she could when she was released from prison,” and she “remembered it being reported that felons could now vote in Florida from the reports on television.”
Florida voters approved Amendment Four in November 2018, granting people with past felony convictions – except for murder and sex offense convictions – full voting rights after their sentence was complete, including probation and parole. When DeSantis took office, he signed a bill delaying the rights restoration until after the person had paid all fines and fees associated with their felony conviction.
Alicia Hill, spokesperson for the Tallahassee Police Department, said Ervin’s arrest was the result of an officer “proactively searching for wanted people,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
In response to a USA Today story regarding the case, DeSantis’ press secretary, Alex Lanfranconi, mocked Ervin’s felony case on Twitter/X.
I’m sorry her sleep was disturbed.
She served time for neglecting her own mother in horrific conditions.
— Alex Lanfranconi (@AlexLanfran) October 5, 2023
Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell is standing in solidarity with Ervin, saying DeSantis’ law intentionally confused Black people.
“She is yet another Black person in Florida, another Floridian, that has been tricked by this confusing system they put in place,” Driskell said. “And I think it is confusing on purpose. I think it is intentional.”