TALLAHASSEE (Fla.) -- Friday's Florida Senate vote passed a package of voting laws that Gov. Ron DeSantis would establish a police force that is dedicated to investigating election crimes.
The bill was approved by the chamber on a party-lines vote, with almost all Republicans supporting it. House lawmakers are currently considering companion legislation.
Republican DeSantis proposed the creation of an election police unit in response to unspecified fraud allegations that had gained momentum in some parts of the GOP after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that his reelection was stolen.
Governor Scott, who is running for reelection, and was considered a potential challenger to the 2024 presidential election, both praised Florida's 2020 Election and stated that more rules were needed to prevent wrongdoing. Voter fraud is uncommon and usually detected. Experts and election officials agree that there was no fraud that could affect the results of the presidential election.
"What are you really afraid of?" Senator Travis Hutson (a Republican who sponsored the bill) asked lawmakers to clarify Friday's short debate. "Are you afraid that our elections will be too secure?"
To investigate fraud allegations and conduct preliminary investigations, the bill would establish an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State. The governor would have to appoint special officers from Florida Department of Law Enforcement to pursue election law violations.
The governor can appoint officers under state law to investigate violations of electoral law, but it is not required by law.
Democrats claimed that the measure was intended to satisfy an wing of Republican Party members who believe the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. Critics argued that the measure was unnecessary because fraud cases can be handled by local prosecutors.
We all know Florida had a great vote so why aren't we doing it? "The only thing that I can think of is that we are motivated by the Big Lie that elections across the country were not conducted in a proper way, but that's false," stated Sen. Lori Berman (a Democrat).
Also, the proposal would make "ballot harvesting", the act of collecting completed ballots from a third party, a felony. Under the measure, fines for violations of election law would rise and election supervisors would have to conduct more frequent maintenance of their voter lists.
This legislation is based on a Florida GOP-controlled voting law that DeSantis signed last year. It established new rules for ballot drop boxes. The legislation required drivers license numbers, state ID numbers or the last four digits from a Social Security number in order to request a postal ballot. After being challenged by voting rights organizations, the law from last year is currently under federal investigation.