Once again, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is leading the way, and it is the way the rest of the nation should be going. Governor DeSantis signed a new bill this week that will bring massive voting changes through a new, dedicated election police force. This will enable his administration to have investigations with teeth to fight election crimes.
Florida is now one of the first states in the country to have a law enforcement unit dedicated to election fraud. This has become a significant issue to many voters since former President Donald Trump’s loss in 2020.
Governor DeSantis said to the press that he did not think there was another place in the country where you could have more confidence that your vote will be counting than in the state of Florida.
The Florida governor is not only up for reelection this year, but he is being considered for a 2024 presidential bid. With his signature on this new legislation, he is grabbing the heart of many conservative voters in his party. And this was the just latest move that he has made which had given him the hearts of many on the right.
DeSantis signed two bills that focus on restrictions for Disney and what schools and businesses can say about race and gender. After Disney used its massive power to speak out against a law that stops teachers from talking about sexual identity to children as young as 5-years-old, DeSantis offered legislation that took back the complete authority they had over their land. They had been able to function as their own government.
This new election law is the second major move the state administration has made since the 2020 election. Even though Trump won the state with a fairly large margin, the Secretary of State’s office indicated that it received 262 election fraud complaints and they referred 75 of them to law enforcement.
This new law will create an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State. They will have a staff of 15 people to conduct investigations. The legislation also allows for DeSantis to appoint up to 10 law enforcement officers to investigate any election crimes.
The governor explained at a news conference that local officials in an election do not have the needed experience to investigate voting-related complaints. These new officers would be trained in how to deal with election-related crimes. DeSantis said that his administration wants to make sure that the laws on the books in Florida are enforced.
The new program will cost $3.7 million, according to Rep. Daniel Perez, a major sponsor of the legislation. At first, DeSantis was asking for almost $6 million for a 52-member force.
Within the new legislation, there is also an increased penalty for violating Florida election laws. It will now be a felony to collect and submit more than two vote-by-mail ballots for another voter. In the past, this was just a misdemeanor. The fine was raised from $1,000 to $50,000 on organizations that violate voter registration laws.
Cecile Scoon is the president of the League of Women Voters in Florida. She said to CNN that the increased fine is a “direct threat” to her organization. She explained that the increased fines along with the new election force don’t give her a “warm or cozy feeling.”
There is also a new expectation of election supervisors to clean voter rolls annually instead of every two years. They will now get a $1,000 fine for changing voters’ party registration without their consent. It had been reported in South Florida that some elderly voters had their party affiliation switched without notifying them.
The DeSantis train has left the station…His reelection seems secure and in 2024 the stop may be the White House.