The FDLE is investigating registrations submitted for six felons in a De Soto facility whose civil rights hadn't been restored.
In a small town like Arcadia, everyone knows each other's business.
That's why Kelli Johnson, the assistant supervisor of elections in De Soto County, immediately recognized the address on some voter registration cards she got last month: 13613 S.E. Highway 70.
It's home to the Florida Civil Commitment Center for sexual predators.
"I'm not stupid," Johnson said.
She reported the suspicious new voters, prompting an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
An FDLE spokeswoman declined to comment, except to confirm agents had opened an investigation.
About six sexual offenders who registered to vote signed oaths that they were not felons, Johnson said. She said FDLE agents confirmed they were indeed felons and had not gotten their right to vote restored.
"It's very clear," Johnson said.
The six inmates were being held under the Jimmy Ryce Act, a law that allows the state to keep sexual offenders who have completed their prison sentences locked up indefinitely for treatment.
Felons can vote if the state clemency board restores their civil rights. But none of the sexual offenders the St. Petersburg Times identified have gotten their rights back, records show.
A spokesman for the Department of Children and Families, which oversees sexual treatment programs under the Jimmy Ryce Act, said the department had no authority over the "voter-related activities of residents" at the Arcadia facility.
The department keeps the inmates confined and supervised at the facility through a contract with a private company.
Department spokesman Tim Bottcher declined to comment on how inmates were allowed to fill out voter registration cards.
The cards arrived at the De Soto elections office through a third party.
Someone - Johnson declined to say who - walked into the office in Arcadia last month with a handful of new voter registration cards. She noticed that all the new voters lived at the same address.
"That's a big clue to me," she said.
Times researcher Connie Humburg contributed to this report. David Karp can be reached at 727 893-8430 or email@example.com