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Gov. De Santis' Right Wing War Continues With Signing of "Voter Fraud Office" Bill

Civil Rights Policy Brief #187 | By: Rodney A. Maggay | April 2022

Header photo taken from: Rolling Stone

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Gov. DeSantis signs a bill that creates an election police unit to pursue voter fraud.

Photo taken from: WUSF

Policy Summary

On April 25, 2022 Governor Ron De Santis of Florida signed Senate Bill 524 which, among a number of things, creates a new Office of Election Crimes and Security as a new unit in Florida’s Department of State. The new office will be charged with overseeing elections but more specifically will review fraud allegations and conduct preliminary investigations into those allegations. A special subset of law enforcement officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be specially appointed by the Governor to provide support into investigating alleged election law violations. The Florida Legislature budgeted $1.1 million dollars to fund 15 newly created positions to staff the new office. The bill passed the Republican controlled Florida Legislature by a 24 – 14 vote in the Florida Senate and a 76 – 41 vote in the Florida House, mostly along party lines. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis

Governor Ron De Santis’ right wing war in Florida continues.

Governor De Santis had just recently been in the news for his support of controversial education and anti – LGBQT bills and now the Republican Governor of the third largest state in the Union has done it for all the wrong reasons again. Despite numerous investigations and reports that have determined that voting fraud in the United States is exceedingly rare, Gov. De Santis has decided to ignore that. The Governor, as well as a number of other prominent Republican politicians, have now embraced a favored Republican talking point – that individual states and the United States is under attack due to elections that are not secure and vulnerable to tampering and manipulation.

The reason for this stems directly from former President Donald Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Since then, Republicans have clung to the President’s self – serving lie and Republican politicians have made it their rallying cry and a point of emphasis when they engage with their supporters. But research suggests that voter fraud is nearly non – existent and that the bill in Florida is simply political grandstanding to put forth a solution to a problem that does not exist.

Earlier this month Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, issued his long awaited report into the 2022 election in Arizona and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities. The report also confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the state. 

The report is significant because Republicans tried to pressure officials in the state to conclude there was widespread voter fraud but Attorney General Brnovich pushed back and instead stated there was no widespread voter fraud in the state although certain systems had vulnerabilities and could be strengthened. And the Associated Press (AP) last year conducted an investigation in six battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and found approximately 400 allegations of voter fraud out of a total of 25.5 million votes cast. That is less than 1/2 of 1 percent of those votes cast and the AP concluded that the incidents were isolated and “there was no widespread, coordinated deceit.


The new law will create an “Office of Election Crimes and Security” in the Department of State and also will authorize the use of additional investigators who work in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Photo taken from: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

(click or tap to enlargen)

What does this mean for the new Office of Election Crimes and Security in Florida? What is clear is that this new stunt by Governor De Santis is purely political and only necessary to boost his standing and election chances in future elections. Governor De Santis is looking to appeal to a small subset of Republican voters even if the facts underlying  Trump’s lie about voter fraud have been shown to be false. But for voters in Florida the new office is being viewed as a new bullying and intimidation tactic that Republicans might wield against minority voters. 

Voters might end up thinking twice about exercising their legitimate right to vote (maybe even register to vote) if the consequences for inadvertent or paperwork mistakes might cause law enforcement officers to pay a visit to their homes. And the use of officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement might lead some of those officers to conduct more invasive personal inquiries using databases that law enforcement officers use for more serious crimes. What Gov. De Santis has done is send a message that allegations of voting fraud will be considered a serious crime on par with serious felonies. It sounds like De Santis and his cronies in Florida are instead looking to dissuade uncertain people and people of color from voting instead of trying to remove obstacles and make the voting process as smooth as it can be for Florida’s residents. 

 

This new voting law is an embarrassment and does nothing to promote free and fair elections in the United States’ third largest state. LEARN MORELEARN MORELEARN MORELEARN MORELEARN MORE

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

Brennan Center for Justice – non – profit group’s report on the false narrative of voter fraud.

Brookings Institution – group’s report showing that mail in ballots do not increase voter fraud.

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