Governor Ron DeSantis affirmed on Wednesday during a press conference in West Palm Beach plans to improve election integrity in a widespread effort to clamp down on voter fraud.
DeSantis called upon legislators to enact four principle steps to safeguard elections: establish an Office of Election Crimes and Security, elevate ballot harvesting to a third-degree felony offense, the requirement of timelines for supervisors of elections to clean the voter rolls of ineligible voters, and the prohibition of unsecured drop box locations.
DeSantis’ announcement drew the ire of state Democrats, who were quick to condemn the Governor’s game plan.
“More attacks on voting coming to Florida. Just like in 2020 we had elections last night in our state with no issues” said Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Florida’s 47th Congressional District on Twitter. “Why does our Governor keep creating partisan chaos. Why can’t we just focus on problems like housing, hunger, taxes, our environment public transportation?”
If formed, DeSantis’ Office of Election Crimes and Security would be a standalone group at the state level dedicated to investigating election crimes in Florida. The group would be comprised of sworn law enforcement officers, investigators, and prosecutors. “I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that,” stated DeSantis, also adding that “if potential violators know they will be held accountable, they will be much less likely to engage in improper conduct in the first place.”
DeSantis claims that the Office of Election Crimes and Security would be utilized to alleviate pressure from individual counties that presently have an influx of criminal cases to work through. “Some of these counties, some of them will do the cases,” DeSantis continued. “But that’s not their expertise. They’ve got all these other crimes that they have to deal with. So, by the time it happens, the election is already over,” stated the Governor to a crowd of supporters.
DeSantis has largely shrugged off previous requests to bolster election security, claiming that Florida was the state with the smoothest election process. But he has faced stiff pressure from some Republicans calling for new voting integrity measures.
“If Florida Governor Ron DeSantis does not order an audit of the 2020 election … I may be forced to seek the Libertarian Party nomination for governor (of) Florida,” stated Republican consultant and former Trump ally Roger Stone.