Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced in July the creation of the new Office of Election Crimes and Security that, in coordination with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, would investigate and prosecute alleged acts of election fraud.
On Thursday, Gov. DeSantis revealed during a press conference that 20 individuals previously convicted of murder or sexual assault had already been charged for voting illegally in the 2020 election, the Associated Press reported.
New elections crimes office makes 20 arrests
“In 2020, Florida ran an efficient, transparent election that avoided the major problems we saw in other states. At the same time, the election was not perfect, which is why we continue our efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement during the press event in Fort Lauderdale.
“Our new election crimes office has sprung into action to hold individuals accountable for voter fraud,” he added in that statement. “Today’s actions send a clear signal to those who are thinking about ballot harvesting or fraudulently voting. If you commit an elections crime, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
That news release stated: “All 20 of these individuals were disqualified from voting after they were convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, but they chose to vote anyway, and now they have all been charged with voter fraud — a third-degree felony punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.”
Ineligible convicted felons caught voting
Speaking to reporters while flanked by uniformed law enforcement officers, Gov. DeSantis clarified that the charged individuals had been explicitly “disenfranchised” from voting by Florida law due to their prior violent felony convictions, whereas the law allows other non-violent former convicts to go through a process to have their voting rights restored.
In 2020, FL ran one of the most secure & transparent elections in the US, but we have more work to do. That’s why I established an election crimes unit. @fdlepio has charged 20 murderers & sex offenders who weren’t eligible to vote w/ election fraud. They face 5 yrs in prison. pic.twitter.com/eNXksxOtEI
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 18, 2022
“They did not go through any process, they did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyways,” he said. “That is against the law and now they’re gonna pay the price for it.”
Just the “opening salvo” of new election fraud law enforcement office
Later during the event, a reporter asked if “all this,” in reference to the special law enforcement unit and press conference, was truly “necessary” for just 20 arrests. DeSantis replied, “So, it’s not just gonna be 20 arrests. This is an opening salvo of an office that was just set up on July 1.”
Reporter asks Gov. Ron DeSantis if “all this” is necessary for 20 arrests: “It’s not just gonna be 20 arrests… It was just set up on July 1st.”
“This was my idea – well, because people weren’t getting prosecuted!” pic.twitter.com/p8wUEKO6rO
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) August 18, 2022
“So, before I proposed this — this was my idea — before I proposed this …,” he continued before being interrupted by a reporter, to whom the governor fired back, “Well, because people weren’t getting prosecuted!”
DeSantis added that prior to the establishment of this new office, instances of voter fraud were “seeming to fall through the cracks,” and reiterated, “So this is the opening salvo, this is not the sum total of 2020” in terms of potentially prosecutable offenses of election fraud.