Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says his state’s new election fraud task force has already made 20 arrests in connection to voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
In an announcement Thursday, DeSantis said the Office of Election Crimes and Security had identified 20 people who committed voter fraud during the election and was in the process of arresting and prosecuting them.
“The Office of Election Crimes and Security, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office and FDLE of the state of Florida, has charged and is in the process of arresting 20 individuals across the state for voter fraud,” he said.
DeSantis said that the 20 people identified by the election fraud unit, who were from Florida’s Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, voted in the election despite being ineligible to vote due to a prior criminal conviction.
In Florida, our new election crimes office will ensure our elections are conducted in accordance with the law.
Those who engage in ballot harvesting or illegal voting will be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/wlYV8Z0cEw
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 18, 2022
As DeSantis explained, citizens of Florida who have been convicted of either murder or sexual assault are unable to vote in state elections.
The 20 individuals being charged by the Office of Election Crimes now face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. According to the governor, the voter fraud charge is a third-degree felony.
During the announcement Thursday, DeSantis said the focus of the new voter fraud task force is to ensure that Florida’s election integrity laws are being enforced in future elections.
“One of the things that we did in the most recent legislative session, though, is recognize, yes, you can have all these great policy reforms, and it’s important to do it, but if it’s not actually enforced then what difference is it going to make at the end of the day?” he said.
The state’s Office of Election Crimes and Security was created in March, when the Florida House passed the bill proposing the new voter fraud unit, and was officially established at the start of July. Less than a week into the office’s operation, DeSantis tasked attorney Peter Antonacci with leading the new unit.
Thursday’s arrests mark the first public action taken by the election crimes unit, which DeSantis hopes will protect the integrity of future elections in the state.