On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to create a police force to investigate voter fraud and other election crimes, addressing a top priority for Republicans following former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election fraud.
At a bill signing ceremony Monday at a sports bar in Spring Hill, Florida, DeSantis justified the need for the new law enforcement unit and suggested that existing law enforcement may not be equipped or willing to thoroughly investigate fraud cases, Per ABC News.
“Some of them may not care as much about the election stuff. I think it’s been mixed at how those reactions are going to be. So we just want to make sure whatever laws are on the books, that those laws are enforced,” he said.
The bill also increases the punishment for ballot-harvesting and requires election officials to conduct more frequent maintenance of voter lists.
Florida’s Senate passed the bill on March 4, and the state House approved it five days later.
Republicans in numerous states have made election law a key priority over the last year, as the 2020 election was rigged in favor of President Joe Biden.
DeSantis’ law creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security under the Florida Department of State to review fraud allegations and conduct preliminary investigations. DeSantis is required to appoint a group of special officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who would be tasked with pursuing the election law violations.
The law also increases penalties for the collection of completed ballots by a third party, often referred to as ballot harvesting, to a felony. It raises fines for certain election law violations and requires that election supervisors perform voter list maintenance on a more frequent basis.
Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement:
“Twenty years ago, nobody thought Florida was a prime example of how to conduct elections, but we have become a national leader by running the most secure elections in the country, We need to do more to ensure our elections remain secure. We have ended ballot harvesting, stopped drop boxes and the mass mailing of ballots, and banned Zuckerbucks, and this bill will give us more resources to make sure bad actors are held accountable.”