DeSantis signs bill establishing Florida election police unit
Unit designed to stamp out voter fraud in the nation's third largest state.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved the creation of a police force to crack down on voter fraud. The GOP state leader originally proposed the creation of such a unit following the 2020 election.
"I don’t think there’s any other place in the country that you should have more confidence that your vote counts than in the state of Florida," DeSantis said Monday during the bill signing event.
The bill will established an "Office of Election Crimes and Security" within the Florida's Department of State and will make use of an additional team of investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. About 25 positions within the two agencies will be established.
A second part of the bill will make the practice of "ballot harvesting" a felony and mandate that election overseers conduct annual screens of voter rolls every year to look for voters who are no longer eligible to vote.
Democrats were opposed to the creation of the new election police, arguing it is unnecessary.
"Even the governor has said that Florida’s 2020 election was secure," said Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson. "Yet this new election crime task force has been developed to solve a problem that does not exist. Its implementation will put up additional barriers to voting and targets communities of color. This bullying tactic will intimidate and immobilize workers, families, and everyday people."
Following the 2020 elections, DeSantis and Republican members of the state legislature passed a law banning outside grant funding for local election offices and tightening the system around the state's vote-by-mail process.