Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a invoice creating a brand new company to focus on voter fraud that critics say is pointless and might be used for partisan good points.
DeSantis on Monday signed laws meant to tighten safeguards in opposition to voter fraud whereas establishing the Office of Election Crimes and Security. The Republican governor’s signature is the most recent crimson state response to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But opponents name the brand new workplace an answer searching for an issue.
The Office of Election Crimes and Security might be arrange within the Florida Department of State and would be the first company within the state devoted to investigating election crimes.
Speaking at an occasion in Spring Hill, DeSantis stated the brand new workplace is an important a part of the invoice and can give tooth to different provisions. DeSantis stated the workplace is the primary of its sort in state authorities that may be capable to prosecute voter fraud, and Florida voters might be assured their votes might be counted.
“The fact of the matter is when people see something that they think may violate the law, and you call the supervisor of elections—we’ll they’re not investigators,” stated DeSantis. “They’re not law enforcement. What are you gonna do you? Call the State Attorney’s Office? They do other crimes.”
The Campaign Legal Center final month stated the “new partisan agency” would “open the door for voter intimidation and harassment.” Florida’s governor might be allowed to nominate their very own officers in each regional workplace of the State Department of Law Enforcement, taking away oversight held by nonpartisan election directors and giving it to partisan politicians, the middle stated.
“The Governor’s election police is political theater at best, and a deliberate barrier to voting + a huge waste of millions of taxpayer dollars at worst. Floridians deserve fair and free elections,” Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner who’s operating as a Democrat to problem DeSantis in November, stated on Twitter.
Kirk Bailey, political director for the ACLU of Florida, stated in a press release final month that the “elections police force” is pointless after DeSantis and his allies within the GOP-controlled Legislature stated the 2020 election was safe and correct.
“Considering the long history of law enforcement in Florida serving directly or indirectly as a tool of voter intimidation and the absence of any widespread wrongdoing by voters in Florida’s past elections, the proposal raises serious concerns of voter intimidation and a potential chilling effect on political participation,” Bailey stated.
Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for DeSantis, instructed Newsweek in an e-mail that the workplace’s extremely skilled employees and “clearly defined responsibility to investigate alleged election-related crimes will function as a powerful deterrent to would-be perpetrators of election fraud.”
He additionally pointed to remarks made final month by Mark Ard, Director of External Affairs on the Florida Department of State, saying the division lacked regulation enforcement or investigative employees to pursue complaints about unsolicited or misdirected vote-by-mail ballots amongst different points.