Florida’s DeSantis proposes ‘Election Crimes’ office

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he would introduce a new package of election integrity legislation that included the establishment of an “Office of Election Crimes and Security.” 

The office would be tasked with investigating election crimes and fraud, DeSantis said

“I am excited that with this legislation, our state will be able to enforce election violations, combat voter fraud, and make sure violators are held accountable,” he said. “If potential violators know they will be held accountable, they will be much less likely to engage in improper conduct in the first place.” 

The DeSantis legislation would also ban “insecure haphazard drop box locations” anywhere in the state and would make ballot harvesting, which is prohibited, a third-degree felony.

The legislation would also require county election supervisors to adhere to a timeline to purge voter rolls of ineligible voters. 

DeSantis plans to introduce the proposals in the next state legislative session, which begins in January. He said the changes he is pitching would make Florida “the No. 1 state for elections.” 

In May, DeSantis signed into law a sweeping measure banning the mass mailing of ballots, requiring voter ID for mail-in ballots, and guaranteeing political candidates and parties the ability to observe signature-matching reviews by canvassing boards, among other changes. 

DeSantis announced the latest voter reform proposals for Florida as Republicans in the Senate voted to block a bill authored by Democrats aiming to reverse voter integrity laws implemented in many red states.

Democrats hoped to loosen voter ID requirements and increase mail-in ballots, among other changes. 

But the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster. 

One Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted to advance the bill. 

Democrats and President Joe Biden have railed against red-state election changes, likening them to the discriminatory Jim Crow laws that ended many decades ago. 

In a floor speech Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called changes to voting laws in Georgia, Texas, Iowa, and other red states “the greatest coordinated effort at the state level to suppress voting rights since the era of segregation.”

Republicans have scoffed at the claim, arguing it is easier than ever for any legal voter to cast a ballot.