Woman arrested after a dead voter’s information was used for Florida petition drive

Elections officials raised the possibility of fraud in 2021 in at least six counties across Florida.
The Las Vegas Sands casino company was behind a Florida petition drive to expand gaming in the state.
The Las Vegas Sands casino company was behind a Florida petition drive to expand gaming in the state.
Published May 31|Updated June 1

A Pinellas County woman is the latest Floridian arrested over falsified petitions for a 2022 proposed amendment to expand casino gaming.

Kasandra Baylor, 65, of St. Petersburg was arrested Sunday on charges of criminal use of personal identification information after prosecutors say she used a dead person’s information and the information of unwitting voters to fill out petitions in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment. Of the 976 petitions Baylor submitted as a paid petition-gatherer, 477 were deemed invalid for reasons including having signatures that didn’t match, being completed by voters not on the rolls, or having deceased individuals’ information, according to prosecutors.

Baylor was a paid petition-circulator for Metropolitan Strategy and Solutions from October 2021 to January 2022, making about $11,000, according to the arrest warrant. The petition drive was financed by Las Vegas Sands, the casino company that spent $73 million trying to get an amendment on the November 2022 ballot, asking voters to allow card rooms in Florida to be converted to Vegas-style casinos. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has a monopoly on casino-style gambling in Florida, spent at least $40 million to keep the measure from going before voters, according to the state Division of Elections website.

The Sands-backed committee sponsoring the amendment, Florida Voters in Charge, failed to meet the number of required valid signatures by the deadline. It initially tried to fight to keep the amendment alive in court but later dropped the effort.

In 2021, elections officials across the state raised the alarm that a number of petitions in favor of the expansion of casino gambling seemed to be fraudulent. Baylor was one of 21 circulators whose submitted petitions to Florida Voters in Charge were investigated by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, according to the arrest record.

Prosecutors have filed charges in many of the cases over the last month and a half, said Kendall Davidson with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office. The full list of individuals arrested was not immediately available Wednesday afternoon.

Kasandra Baylor was arrested on charges of criminal use of personal identification information.
Kasandra Baylor was arrested on charges of criminal use of personal identification information. [ Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]

The prosecutor investigating Baylor’s case interviewed two people who were listed as having signed petitions submitted by Baylor. Both confirmed that they didn’t sign the petition, but their personal information was used. One of the women said she knew Baylor 35 years ago, when Baylor went to a hair salon that the woman owned.

Baylor did not return two calls from a reporter Wednesday. An attorney representing Florida Voters in Charge did not respond to a call or an email.

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When the idea of fraudulent activity was first raised at the end of 2021, Jim McKee, an attorney representing Florida Voters in Charge, said that “the idea that our committee would purposely submit fraudulent petitions is ridiculous.”

Hundreds of petitions across the state were flagged as possibly fraudulent out of Duval, Gulf, Pinellas, Marion, Brevard and Bradford counties. In Marion County, county elections supervisor Wesley Wilcox said one petition included his name and a forged version of his signature.

County elections officials said their staffs were buried in work as they tried to verify suspicious petitions.

Then-Secretary of State Laurel Lee in December 2021 referred claims of fraudulent petitions by six county elections supervisors to Attorney General Ashley Moody, warning her office not to wait for a criminal investigation to stop “additional fraudulent acts against voters.” Moody’s office did not seek any injunction at the time to stop the petition efforts.

In May of last year, a Jacksonville couple were arrested for submitting fraudulent petitions for an affordable housing initiative and the casino gaming initiative, according to Action News Jax. The couple was employed by Umunna Legal Group, according to arrest warrants.

In December, a Marianna woman was arrested by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents for submitting forms in favor of the casino gaming initiative with five people’s information falsely included. The woman worked for a group called Victory Labs Inc., according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Baylor’s case appears to have been investigated by local prosecutors, not a new statewide election crimes office set up by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Department of State, which oversees that office, did not as of Wednesday afternoon confirm whether or not the election crime office was involved.

Florida Voters in Charge has an active campaign that would again seek to get an amendment to expand casino gaming on the 2024 ballot, but no petitions have been submitted for it so far, and no money has been donated to the group’s committee since 2022.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.