Charles Franklin Barnes
Charles Franklin Barnes (Photo: Mugshot Sumter County Jail)

On Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that two of the Florida men from The Villages charged with illegally voting multiple times will take guilty pleas to avoid jail time.

"Charles F. Barnes and Jay Ketcik pleaded guilty to casting more than one ballot in an election, a third-degree felony that could have resulted in a maximum five-year prison sentence," reported Amanda Rabines. "According to the pre-trial intervention documents, the prosecution of Barnes, 64, and Ketcik, 63, will be deferred if they abide by a series of court-ordered requirements set by the office of Ocala-based State Attorney Bill Gladson."

Specifically, per the report, "Court records show the men will avoid further punishment if they regularly meet with a supervising officer, complete 50 hours of community service and attend a 12-week adult civics class, among a handful of other requirements."

Barnes is not registered with a political party; Ketcik is a Republican.

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Authorities began investigating possible voter fraud in The Villages last year, arresting Ketcik and two others, John Rider and Joan Halstead. Barnes was arrested in January.

Former President Donald Trump has constantly pushed conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, suggesting with no basis that absentee ballots — expanded in many states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — were used on a large scale to let Biden supporters vote multiple times. Fraud has only ever been found in isolated incidents that were inconsequential to elections, and these claims were broadly rejected by dozens of courts.