Florida is in the process of arresting 20 individuals who have been charged for voter fraud, Sunshine State officials announced Thursday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed landmark election integrity legislation in April, creating an Office of Election Crimes and Security under Florida’s State Department, which reviews and investigates allegations of voter fraud.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the country where you should have more confidence that your vote counts than in the State of Florida,” DeSantis said at the time.
The governor on Thursday addressed critics, many of whom questioned the actions Florida has taken to address voter fraud — from making ballot harvesting a felony offense to banning “Zuckerbucks.”
“You can have all these great policy reforms and it’s important to do it, but if it’s not actually enforced, then what difference is it gonna make at the end of the day?” DeSantis asked.
“The fact of the matter is, if there are certain rules and regulations in place, if people don’t think that those are gonna be enforced, you’re gonna have more violations. That’s just the way it goes,” he said, touting the Office of Election Crimes and Security, tasked with investigating such matters.
“We want to make sure we have laws in place and we want those laws to be enforced,” DeSantis continued before announcing that, through that office and in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), “the state of Florida has charged and is in the process of arresting 20 individuals across the state for voter fraud.”
Most of the illegal votes, he said, came from individuals in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade.
“Although there are others in other parts of the state, these folks voted illegally. In this case, and there’s gonna be other grounds for other prosecutions in the future, they are disqualified from voting because they’ve been convicted of either murder or sexual assault and they do not have the right to vote. They have been disenfranchised under Florida law,” he said, explaining that they did not go through the process of restoring their voting rights, “and yet they went ahead and voted anyways.”
“Now they’re gonna pay the price for it. So they will be charged. They are being charged and arrested today with election fraud. This is a third degree felony in the state of Florida,” he said, adding that the individuals could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
“To have somebody who is clearly an illegal felon voting and yet they did it and nothing happened until we stepped in with this new office, until we said this is something that we take seriously, now, this is only one class of voters that we know have violated the law,” he said, adding that there are ongoing investigations “into people that have voted in two different jurisdictions.” DeSantis also said they have individuals who are voting who are illegal aliens and therefore not eligible to vote.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) echoed the governor’s remarks.
“Today we are announcing actions against 20 defendants in five different circuits across the state of Florida,” she said:
And I can tell you from my previous experience and working alongside these great men and women when you have a specialized unit, when you can ensure that you can attract and retain people that have been trained and are skilled in a particular area of law, you will be able to respond more rapidly and efficiently and effectively when you do have violations of law. So, this legislation was much needed.
“So today is a very important step as in Florida, we work diligently to ensure free and fair elections and the confidence of our citizens,” she added. “They are free and fair elections.”