On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) signed a bill into law that mandates the creation of a new election police force, with the intention of patrolling voting locations to more effectively crack down on fraudulent practices.
As reported by Politico, the bill implements an idea that was first suggested by DeSantis himself, in the aftermath of widespread voter fraud in numerous key swing states during the 2020 election, which may have been enough to swing the results away from President Donald Trump and in favor of Joe Biden.
“I don’t think there’s any other place in the country that you should have more confidence that your vote counts than in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at the signing of the bill, which took place at a sports bar outside Tampa Bay.
The law will see the creation of a new “Office of Election Crimes and Security” within the Florida Department of State, which is authorized to use additional investigators in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The bill allocates $2.6 million for the creation of the task force, and sets aside 25 new positions within the two agencies for this purpose. In addition, the bill makes ballot-harvesting – the process of third parties collecting and returning someone else’s ballot – a felony. It also mandates that election supervisors screen voter rolls on an annual basis in order to continuously remove voters who are ineligible or who have moved to another location.
The bill was proposed even despite the fact that Florida was a rare example of a major swing state where little to no fraud took place in 2020, thus leading to Trump winning the state by a sizable margin of nearly 4 percent. Democrats cited this as an excuse to oppose the bill, with State Representative Yvonne Hinson (D-Fla.) claiming that “this new election crime task force has been developed to solve a problem that does not exist.”
Voter fraud in 2020 remains one of the dominant concerns for Republican voters across the country, with numerous states implementing laws to crack down on fraudulent practices such as mail-in ballots, ballot drop boxes, ballot-harvesting, and private funding of election procedures, among others. States that have passed such laws include Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Iowa.