Despite not producing any substantial evidence of voter fraud in the state, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis put his stamp of approval for Florida to form an “election police force,” as reported by Politico. Florida is one of the first states in the country to have a unit dedicated to looking into election fraud–a phenomenon that is extremely rare in U.S. elections. Georgia is another state which has passed a similar bill.
The new law creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State with a staff of 15 to conduct preliminary investigations of election fraud. There will also be authorization to use additional investigators who work in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. State Rep. Daniel Perez, a top sponsor of the law, states that the combined program will cost $3.7 million. Among the department, there are other provisions this law creates.
The law requires election supervisors to clean voter rolls annually rather than every two years and imposes a $1,000 fine for switching voters’ party registration without their consent.Changes the name of drop boxes to “secure ballot intake stations.”Extends an existing ban on private donations to include “the cost of any litigation related to election administration.Increasing penalties for violating Florida election laws. The law would make it a felony to collect and submit more than two vote-by-mail ballots on behalf of other voters. It previously was a misdemeanor to do so. It also increases the fine from $1,000 to $50,000 on organizations that violate voter registration laws.
Remember that Gov. Desantis praised Florida for how the 2020 election was handled-going as far as to say Florida “inspired confidence.”. Like the voting restrictions passed in Senate Bill 90 and the new congressional maps, some argue that this will be another barrier targeting communities of color.
“Even the governor has said that Florida’s 2020 election was secure. Yet this new election crime task force has been developed to solve a problem that does not exist,” said Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D-Gainesville) in a statement. “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.”
US District Judge Mark Walker struck down many elements of Senate Bill 90 on March 31st and barred Florida from making any future election rule changes similar to the provisions. Florida officials filed notice that they intend to appeal that decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.