Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday creating a police force dedicated to prosecuting voter fraud and other election crimes, assuming a top Republican priority after Donald Trump falsely claimed his reelection was stolen.
DeSantis, who is running for re-election and is considered a potential Republican presidential nominee for 2024, made election legislation a focus this year, urging the Republican-controlled legislature to create the police unit in a speech in which he referred to unspecified cases of electoral fraud, which have become popular topics of conversation in his party.
Voter fraud is rare, typically occurs in isolated cases and is usually uncovered. An Associated Press investigation into the 2020 presidential election found fewer than 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in the six states where Trump and his allies contested his loss to President Joe Biden.
Republicans across the country have stressed the need to restore public confidence in elections, passing several electoral laws over the past two years aimed at introducing new rules for postal and early voting methods that were popular in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was on interfered with personal voting.
Florida’s new law, which critics have deemed politically motivated and unnecessary, comes after DeSantis hailed the state’s 2020 election as smooth but later suggested more rules were needed.
The law creates an Office of Voting Crimes and Security under the Florida Department of State to review allegations of fraud and conduct preliminary investigations. DeSantis must appoint a group of special agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate election law violations.
Current state law allowed the governor to appoint officers to investigate violations of the election law, but did not require him to do so.
The law also increases penalties for the collection of completed ballots by a third party, often referred to as ballot picking, as a crime. It provides fines for certain violations of voting rights and requires election officials to maintain electoral rolls more frequently.
Democrats, the minority party in the state legislature, have criticized the bill as a way for DeSantis to appeal to Republican voters who believe the 2020 election results were fraudulent while flirting with a presidential nomination of his own.
Late last month, a federal judge overturned parts of a sweeping election law passed last year in a harsh ruling that claimed the state’s Republican-dominated government was repressing black voters and ordered attempts to ban similar new ones over the next decade Writing laws must have court approval.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker overturned a provision in last year’s law that restricted when people could use a Dropbox to submit their ballots, along with a section that prohibited anyone from engaging with people waiting to vote. He also blocked a section that established new rules for voter-registration groups, including one requiring people who work on voter registration to submit their names and permanent addresses to the state.
The DeSantis administration is working to reverse Walker’s sentence.
Ron DeSantis signs bill creating Florida voter fraud police force | Florida
Source link Ron DeSantis signs bill creating Florida voter fraud police force | Florida