Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a bill that will create a specialized police unit to investigate election fraud and related violations.
The police force will focus primarily on voter fraud and election crimes — a top priority for Republicans following the widespread allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Many critics have argued that local prosecutors can investigate election fraud without the need for a specialized police force, but Florida’s governor disagrees.
“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,” DeSantis said at a bill signing ceremony in Spring Hill.
The new law establishes the 25-person Office of Election Crimes and Security under the Florida Department of State to conduct preliminary investigations and look into allegations of voter fraud and other election irregularities.
A group of special officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will also be appointed by the governor to investigate election law violations.
According to DeSantis, the new law will also strengthen penalties for election violations, including making “ballot harvesting” — when a third party collects ballots from others and delivers them to election offices on the individuals’ behalf — a felony crime. The law also raises fines for altering voting registration forms.
Finally, the law will require election supervisors to maintain voter rolls on a more frequent basis to ensure that deceased people are removed from the list, and to monitor the status of inactive voters or voters whose addresses may have changed.
DeSantis, who is running for re-election, hopes the law will strengthen the public’s confidence in election integrity.
“I don’t think there’s any other place in the country where you should have more confidence that your vote counts than in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.