DeSantis signs bill creating one of the nation’s only Election Police units

The new law will create a “Bureau of Election Crimes and Security” at the Department of State and also authorize the use of additional investigators who work in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Lawmakers earmarked more than $2.6 million and 25 positions for the two agencies.

But the measure was watered down from one that initially warned local election officials it was a “recipe for disaster”. The first version of the bill would have required voters to place additional identification requirements on mail-in ballots beginning in the 2024 election and use an additional envelope. Local election supervisors have warned that this will lead to voter confusion. Instead, lawmakers agreed to have state election officials do a study and come back with recommendations.

Democrats opposed the creation of the new election police and said it was unnecessary.

“Even the governor said the 2020 election in Florida was secure. Yet this new Election Crime Task Force was developed to address a problem that does not exist,” Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D-Gainesville) said in a statement. “Its implementation will put up additional barriers to voting and will target communities of color. This bullying tactic will intimidate and immobilize workers, families and ordinary people.

Republicans throughout this year’s legislative session produced no evidence of widespread fraud, but cited cases that have surfaced recently, including news stories that highlighted voters whose registration was changed. and a handful of voters casting ballots in multiple states.

Other parts of the bill would make “ballot harvesting” a crime while another section would require election supervisors to review voter rolls on an annual basis to look for voters who may have moved or may not have moved. are more eligible. Florida’s agency responsible for issuing driver’s licenses would be required to notify state election officials monthly if they were issuing licenses to noncitizens who are legally in the country.

The bill also changes the name of the drop boxes to “secure polling places,” which would allow Republicans to suggest they got rid of them — a position Trump has championed. But drop boxes would still be allowed as long as they are supervised.

This is the second year in a row that Florida Republicans have made major changes to the state’s election laws. Florida had a smooth election in 2020, with DeSantis even bragging that the state had lost its reputation as a laughingstock.

But amid Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged, DeSantis and lawmakers passed legislation in 2021 that imposed new restrictions on mail-in voting and barred local election officials from accepting outside grants for help with elections.

In March, a federal judge ruled that last year’s measure imposed unconstitutional and discriminatory restrictions on voters against minority voters. Florida appealed the decisionwhich also requires the state to obtain approval before enacting future changes in three areas, including the use of drop boxes.


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