A voting law package pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis was passed by the Florida Senate, creating a police unit dedicated to election crimes. In 2021, DeSantis proposed the need for the election of a police force after citing forms of unspecified allegations of election fraud following former President Donald Trump.
The Florida Senate’s decision was made after a party-line vote, with a majority of Republicans in support of the bill. By implementing the voting law, the Department of State would create an Office of Election Crimes and Security. The voting law would make it a requirement for the governor to appoint a selective group of police officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to regulate election law violations.
The voting law that this legislation is derived from is approved by Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature. DeSantis signed the voting law last year in 2021, implementing new rules pertaining to requesting a mail ballot and ballot drop boxes. Last year’s voting law initiated a requirement of a state ID number, driver’s license number, or the last four digits of a Social Security number to request a mail ballot.
Aside from providing a police unit, the GOP bill will also increase the penalty for collecting completed ballots from third party sources to a felony offense. Specific election law violations will experience an increase of fines from $1,000 to $50,000.
Election supervisors will be responsible for more effective maintenance of their voter lists, requiring them to conduct voter roll maintenance once a year, opposed to every other year.
“I think if the bill passes completely, it will hinder a great number of people from voting,” said Adam Allen, CEO of Phi Entertainment LLC. “It will be a method for Republicans to randomly choose people of color to not vote.”
Democrats are arguing that the Republican Party is utilizing the GOP bill as a measurement to satisfy republicans that suspected 2020 presidential votes to be fraudulent. Currently, state law allows the governor to appoint officers to investigate election crimes, however it is not a requirement of the state government.
The initial budget DeSantis envisioned for the department pertaining to election law violations included hiring 52 staff members for the office and a 5.7 million dollar budget.