“That’s just the first step. There’s a lot more in the pipeline,” DeSantis said. “We’re not just going to turn a blind eye to this. gone.
DeSantis said the office is actively investigating people who voted in two states and undocumented immigrants who he believes may have voted illegally in Florida. He did not provide any specific details about these ongoing investigations.
Voting rights groups, most of whom opposed the creation of the office of election investigation, strongly pushed back against the announcement.
Florida Rising executive director Andrea Mercado said the announcement is a sign his administration is compromising people’s access to the vote, and noted that a congressional redistricting map drawn by DeSantis erased a district from the North Florida Congressman who has long played for black voters.
“No one has done more to violate the integrity of elections in Florida and make it harder for Floridians to be part of our democracy than Ron DeSantis,” she said. “If we had a real election integrity department, they would arrest the governor for clearing black neighborhoods and threatening neighbors helping neighbors vote.”
“What shows today is not that democracy works in Florida, it’s that the offices trying to turn our state into one man will do whatever they can to distract and distract of how they reduced the ability of Floridians to vote and have their voices heard,” she added.
In 2018, state voters passed Amendment 4, which established a process for most felons to regain their right to vote. Some serious convictions, such as murder or felony sexual assault, were not admissible under constitutional language.
DeSantis was joined by police officers, Bureau of Election Crimes and Security Director Pete Antonacci, Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Attorney General Ashley Moody at the press conference.
“As elected leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure free and fair elections and to build trust in the voting process,” Moody said. “No electoral system can stand without the support and trust of the people it serves.”
Moody joined a 2020 Texas-led lawsuit last year suing four swing states for “voting irregularities.” The lawsuit, which the Tampa Bay Times said was mocked by its own attorneys, was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
DeSantis has made it clear, as he has in the past, that he believes the 2020 general election in Florida was an “efficient and transparent election.” DeSantis had to walk a tightrope as former President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge that President Joe Biden won the election and pressured states to audit their elections. DeSantis did not conduct an audit, but pushed for election overhaul bills, including the creation of the Office of Election Investigation.
DeSantis focused on voter fraud in Florida, which is relatively rare, and amplified those concerns at Thursday’s press conference, which included attendees holding campaign-style signs that read “My Vote Matters” and accompanied by the signature of DeSantis.
DeSantis did not give specific details about the areas of the state where the arrests were made, but said the majority were in the Democratic strongholds of Palm, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
DeSantis held no similar press conference earlier this year when four men from The Villages, a sprawling retirement community that leans heavily Republican, were arrested for repeatedly trying to vote.