On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) announced that at least 20 people who have already been disqualified from voting due to felony convictions are now facing charges of voter fraud.
Fox News reports that his announcement was made in a press conference at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. In his remarks, DeSantis said that the accused are all from South Florida, and had previously been convicted of such crimes as murder and sexual assault, which bars them from voting ever again.
“This is against the law, and now they’re going to pay the price for it,” DeSantis said.
If any of them are convicted on the voter fraud charges, they could each face up to five years in prison. Their identities are being withheld for the time being.
The announcement of the 20 arrests marks one of the first major actions undertaken by Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security, a special police unit that was created earlier this year specifically for the purpose of combating voter fraud and protecting election integrity.
The task force was created back in April, when DeSantis signed S.B. 524 into law. The new law, among other measures, increased the penalties for the crime of ballot-harvesting – third party collection of other people’s ballots and either filling them out or turning them in separately – upgrading the act from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
In addition, the law strengthened the ID requirements for mail-in ballot applications, requires that the voter rolls be thoroughly checked every year for ineligible voters, and also prevents election supervisors from receiving private funds, such as the infamous “Zuckerbucks” – money donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to election offices and other government officials in 2020, which overwhelmingly favored Democrat-leaning areas while ignoring Republican-leaning areas.