With the GOP governor’s signature, Florida has turn into one of many first states within the nation with a unit targeted on election fraud, an exceedingly uncommon downside that has turn into an animating problem for some Republican voters following former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss.
“I do not suppose there may be another place within the nation the place it’s best to have extra confidence that your vote counts than within the state of Florida,” DeSantis stated at a information convention earlier than signing the legislation.
The brand new legislation marks the second main overhaul of Florida’s election legal guidelines for the reason that 2020 election — as supporters of Trump clamor for extra voting restrictions and adjustments to election administration forward of midterm elections. Trump and his allies falsely preserve that widespread election fraud led to his 2020 defeat.
Trump gained the Sunshine State by a snug margin that yr, and Florida officers, together with DeSantis, beforehand have stated the 2020 election went easily.
The brand new legislation creates an Workplace of Election Crimes and Safety throughout the Florida Division of State — an company below DeSantis’ jurisdiction — with a employees of 15 to conduct preliminary investigations of election fraud. As well as, the measure requires DeSantis to nominate as much as 10 legislation enforcement officers to the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement to research election crimes.
Throughout Monday’s information convention, DeSantis stated native election supervisors and prosecutors do not essentially have the experience and instruments to research voting-related complaints. The brand new officers would focus on election-related crimes, he stated.
“We simply need to ensure no matter legal guidelines are on the books that these legal guidelines are enforced,” the governor added.
The mixed program will price $3.7 million, state Rep. Daniel Perez, a prime sponsor, stated throughout legislative debate. DeSantis initially sought practically $6 million for a 52-member drive.
The brand new Florida legislation additionally will increase penalties for violating Florida election legal guidelines. It makes it a felony to gather and submit greater than two vote-by-mail ballots on behalf of different voters. It beforehand was a misdemeanor to take action. It additionally will increase the high quality from $1,000 to $50,000 on organizations that violate voter registration legal guidelines.
Cecile Scoon, the president of the League of Girls Voters of Florida, known as the brand new $50,000 high quality a “direct risk” to her group.
“Whenever you couple the elevated fines with the brand new election investigators, it would not provide you with a heat or cozy feeling,” she advised CNN in March as state lawmakers debated the measure.
Florida officers have already got filed discover that they intend to attraction that call to the eleventh Circuit Courtroom of Appeals. And election legislation consultants say Walker’s ruling is more likely to be overturned by both the conservative-leaning eleventh Circuit or the US Supreme Courtroom.
This story has been up to date with extra reporting.
CNN’s Steve Contorno contributed to this story.