Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Election Police announce the arrest of 20 people for voter fraud

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Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 20 people who voted in the 2020 election will be arrested and charged on Thursday for violating state felon voting laws.

The move has been described as the “opening salvo” for the Bureau of Election Crimes and Security, created by DeSantis and approved by the Florida Legislature. Some fear that the office may discourage minorities and other communities from voting. The office began its work on July 1.

DeSantis said the 20 people arrested had all been convicted of murder or sexual assault and were mostly from Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He added that they were not among those whose voting rights were restored by “Amendment 4“, a measure passed by an overwhelming majority in 2018 that restores the right to vote for felons in the state, except those convicted of rape or murder.

“They didn’t follow any procedures. They didn’t get their rights back and yet they went ahead and voted anyway. It’s against the law and now they’re going to pay the price,” he said. DeSantis said at a press conference. Thursday. “These people we are tracking – are outside the contours of Amendment 4.”

The potential penalty is up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

DeSantis also said the Bureau of Election Crimes and Security will also screen undocumented voters when they vote in 2020. Just under 11 million Floridians voted in 2020.

“It’s just the first step,” DeSantis said. “There are going to be foreign nationals. We want the federal government to work constructively on this, and so far that has not been the case. We have an obligation to make sure that American citizens vote.”

Cecile Scoon, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Florida, said there remain open questions about the Election Crimes Bureau, such as how law enforcement will be used and whether their presence will be felt. in polling centers.

“It potentially threatens people. They feel that these police – how are they going to be used? Are they going to stand above people’s shoulders?” she says.

Scoon added that he fears that after DeSantis recently removed State Attorney Andrew Warren from office, election supervisors and officials are next.

“It was a red flag for me. Because he had removed someone from his position, there was concern about what happened next? What’s going on?” said Scoon.

News of the arrests comes at a time when many Republicans still believe there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, a claim perpetuated by former President Donald Trump. A July CBS News poll showed 69% of Republicans believe it was widespread electoral fraud in 2020, despite the rejection of nearly 70 legal challenges, according to the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

“We need to have elected leaders who guarantee free and fair elections and also assure our public and citizens that they can have confidence in the electoral process,” Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said. “I’m sure it will allay fears that behind the scenes in state government people are ignoring violations of the law. That’s not the case.”

Several Republican candidates in the November ballot have signaled they doubt the legitimacy of the 2020 election, including at least nine of the 24 candidates for secretary of state, often the state’s top election official, according to a CBS report. News an analysis.

DeSantis has often said Florida’s 2020 election was very safe and praised the state’s quick ballot count, compared to other battleground states that took much longer.

But he’s also shared the stage with candidates who think the election was stolen, like the Arizona gubernatorial candidate Lake Kari and candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano.

“A potential 2024 presidential candidate, DeSantis is up for re-election this fall. The Florida primaries are on Tuesday, August 23, but he’s running unopposed.”

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