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After Improving Election Security, Florida Has A Voting Police Force

For decades, Florida had a reputation as the state with the nation’s most outstandingly bad voting procedures and Election Day fiascos. This was the state whose chaotic recount dragged a presidential election on for five weeks in 2000, the one that lost nearly 60,000 ballots in 2004, and destroyed a county’s physical ballots in 2016, and had a 2018 midterms debacle that led to yet another round of painfully slow recounts. By the 2020 presidential election, Florida appeared to have worked out the kinks. More than 11 million voters — about 77 percent of those registered — cast a ballot in 2020, and the state went on to and quickly tally votes. Gov. Ron Santis bragged about the state’s successful tabulation, but he sent voting rights activists and election security reeling last week when he signed a bill creating an elections police force to curb alleged election crimes.

Perhaps the centerpiece of the legislation, the police force — one of the first in the nation — will include 15 staff members who will lead election fraud investigations and 10 police officers who will investigate election crimes, costing taxpayers $3.7 million, Vox reports. It will be housed in the newly established Office of Election Crimes and Security within Florida’s Department of State. Florida has never previously had an office dedicated to the enforcement of election laws; investigations were previously handled by Florida’s secretary of state, the attorney general, and the Department of Law Enforcement. The legislation is an odd about-face — for a state and governor who praised Florida’s election security and integrity gains. While DeSantis said the new law is necessary to “do more to ensure our elections remain secure” and that “bad actors are held accountable,” investigations into the election fraud that he and other Republicans allege repeatedly show that fraud is rare.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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