The video shows the heavily armed officers approaching the home of Ronald Lee Miller, 58, identifying themselves as Miami-Dade police officers, and ordering Mr Miller to come outside while aiming guns at him.
Mr Miller answers the door dressed only in his underwear, seemingly with no idea why armed officers are pointing weapons at him. He’s then ordered to sit down in a chair stationed next to his front steps.
“What happened?” Mr Miller asks the police officers.
“I’ll explain it to you once you get dressed,” one of the officers says moments later.
On the same day, another video shows armed police arresting Robert Lee Wood at his home. When an officer remarks that it had taken Mr Wood a “minute” to open the door after they knocked, Mr Wood replies that he’d been asleep.
Both Mr Miller and Mr Wood were unarmed when they were violently arrested and both have been accused of the same crime: voting illegally in a state that has purportedly committed itself to combatting voter fraud.
Gov Ron DeSantis, widely regarded as a leading canddiate for the Republican nomination for president next year, held a press conference on the day that Mr Miller and Mr Wood were arrested. He heralded the work of a new statewide agency charged with investigating voter fraud that had just arrested 19 people for allegedly voting illegally — 14 of whom are Black.
Mr Miller and Mr Wood had both been convicted of second-degree murder more than 30 years before their recent arrest, served their sentences and were unaware that they had permanently lost their right to vote. They say that they were never informed that they’d permanently lost their right to vote and had even been sent voter registration cards in the mail.
A number of other people arrested for voter fraud had similar experiences.
“They helped him fill out the paperwork. He later got a voter card, and thought he could vote. That was two years ago,” Larry S Davis, an attorney representing a man arrested in Miami-Dade County, toldThe Independent back in August.
Even if Mr Miller and Mr Wood voted illegally, the use of force in their arrest has struck voting and civil rights advocates as excessive — designed to chill other would-be voters, particularly in non-white communities.
The crackdown on voter fraud in Florida — an exceptionally rare issue in American elections — comes just a handful of years after 65 per cent of the state’s voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution automatically restoring voting rights to most Floridians with prior convictions who completed the terms of their sentence.
Voters approved that amendment in the same election that Mr DeSantis narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race. Four years later, Florida has increasingly established itself as one of the homes of global far right movement — the home of figures like former president Donald Trump, and, at least temporarily, former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.
The state government has also made it difficult for people re-enfranchised by the constitutional amendment to determine if they are eligible to vote again by passing a law stipulating that convicted felons must repay any money they owe to the state before they can vote again, in effect instituting a poll tax.
Further, the state’s crackdown on voter fraud has exposed other fundamental issues in its election system. If people like Mr Miller and Mr Wood were not eligible to vote, why were they given ballots?
“We should have a statewide database that can verify eligibility on the front end, and none of these people would be in this situation,” Neil Volz, deputy director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, told The Independent in August. “We would not be having this conversation in the context of a political campaign. We could be simply trying to solve the problem.”