Listen to this article here
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday to create a police force to pursue voter fraud and other election crimes, following up on a top priority for Republicans after former President Donald Trump’s repeatedly false claim of 2020 election fraud.
Per ABC News, at a bill signing ceremony Monday at a sports bar in Spring Hill, Florida, DeSantis justified the need for the new law enforcement unit and suggested that existing law enforcement may not be equipped or willing to thoroughly investigate fraud cases.
“Some of them may not care as much about the election stuff. I think it’s been mixed at how those reactions are going to be. So we just want to make sure whatever laws are on the books, that those laws are enforced,” he said.
Election numbers do not justify DeSantis’ action.
Voter fraud is extremely rare, typically occurs in isolated instances and is generally detected. An Associated Press investigation of the 2020 presidential election found less than 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in the six states where Trump and his allies disputed his loss to President Joe Biden.
DeSantis’ law creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security under the Florida Department of State to review fraud allegations and conduct preliminary investigations. DeSantis is required to appoint a group of special officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who would be tasked with pursuing the election law violations.
The law also increases penalties for the collection of completed ballots by a third party, often referred to as ballot harvesting, to a felony. It raises fines for certain election law violations and requires that election supervisors perform voter list maintenance on a more frequent basis.
DeSantis’ election police is the epitome of voter intimidation.
Ron DeSantis is weaponizing the police to carry out his political bidding. Given the copycat nature of the Grand Old Party, it may only be a matter of time before other Governors implement similar or even more severe legislation for their states.
“DeSantis’ so-called election reform legislation is a continued attack by the Republican Party to generate public distrust in the integrity of our elections. The bill is unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer funds,” said Rep. Tracie Davis, a Democrat.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker overturned a provision of last year’s law limiting when people could use a dropbox to submit their ballot, along with a section prohibiting anyone from engaging with people waiting to vote.
He also blocked a section that placed new rules on groups that register voters, including one requiring that people working to register voters submit their names and permanent addresses to the state.
The DeSantis administration is working to reverse Walker’s ruling.