Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he is creating a new police unit to pursue election crimes full-time and wants lawmakers to enhance penalties for those who cheat when they vote, signaling Republican efforts to enhance election integrity are far from over.
The Republican governor’s announcement of the Office of Election Crimes and Security at a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., comes just months after he signed a law tightening security for mail-in ballots and as Republicans in many states seek statewide audits for the 2020 elections.
“I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that,” DeSantis said in describing the deterrent he hopes to create with the new investigative office.
DeSantis also called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to put additional restrictions on the use of drop boxes, suggesting he has soured on their value two years after the state first approved them. “I don’t even think we should have drop boxes,” he said.
He said the new office would help focus on illegal election tactics such as ballot harvesting, in which third-parties illegally collect the ballots of voters and deliver them for counting.
“If someone’s ballot harvesting, you report it to these people and this is their sole job,” he said. “Some of these counties, some of them will do the cases but that’s not their expertise. They got all these other crimes that they have to deal with. So by the time it happens, the election’s already over.”
Democrats immediately derided his announcement.
“More attacks on voting coming to Florida. Just like in 2020 we had elections last night in our state w/no issues. Why does our Governor keep creating partisan chaos?” State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.