Florida's DeSantis appoints director of new Election Crimes Security Office

The appointment of Chief Judge Peter Antonacci came after DeSantis signed an election integrity bill into law in April.

Updated: July 6, 2022 - 11:27pm

Chief Judge Peter Antonacci has been appointed as the new director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security to oversee investigations of election crimes in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

The appointment came after DeSantis signed an election integrity bill into law in April. The new law requires voter rolls to be reviewed and updated annually, strengthens ID requirements, increases penalties for election law violations, and created a new office to investigate election law violations.

After graduating from Florida State University School of Law, Antonacci began his career as a trial prosecutor in the Second Judicial Court.

He most recently served as director and chief judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings after he was appointed Broward County Elections supervisor in 2018.

Prior to that, he served as deputy attorney general of Florida under former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, CEO of Enterprise Florida, general counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott, Palm Beach County state attorney, and executive director of the South Florida Water Management District.

“Peter Antonacci has dedicated his career to serving the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “I am confident he will lead the Office of Election Crimes and Security with integrity and ensure that Florida’s elections are the most secure in the nation.”

The new office, housed in the Department of State, is the first office solely dedicated to investigating all election crimes in Florida. Funding for the office was allocated in the budget through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to hire staff and purchase resources. The office will conduct criminal investigations of election crimes in partnership with the Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Florida Secretary of State and Chief Election Officer Cord Byrd said Antonacci’s “formidable knowledge of Florida election law and his experience as a Supervisor of Elections will ensure that our laws are enforced and that voters have confidence in our elections.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, “I’ve known Peter Antonacci for many years and he is ethical, hardworking, and committed to acting with integrity. He will call balls and strikes. I trust him to make decisions that will strengthen our right to vote. Peter is the right person at the right time for this very important position.”

Leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said, "DeSantis’ new voting police force is costly, unnecessary and a dangerous form of voter intimidation."

Brian Newman has been named acting director and chief judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings to replace Antonnaci, the governor’s office said.

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