OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is cracking down on illegal voters in his state as he announced 20 arrests are coming.
The governor promised the 20 arrests of ex-felons is the start of an illegal voter crackdown, Politico reported.
“The investigation was led by the DeSantis-championed Office of Election Crimes and Security, an office created during the 2022 legislative session to focus on election fraud investigations and prosecutions. The first round, announced during a press conference in Broward County, was focused on felons who illegally voted in 2020 by either not properly applying to have their voting rights restored or were ineligible because of the severity of their crimes,” Politico said.
The governor said that some of those who are being arrested for voting illegally were convicted of crimes like rape and murder.
“This is just the first step. There are many more in the pipeline,” he said. “We are not just going to turn a blind eye to this. The days of that happening in Florida are over.”
In a press release the governor, and others in the administration, commented on the actions being taken to prevent illegal voting.
“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,” he said. “Our new election crimes office has sprung into action to hold individuals accountable for voter fraud. 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.”
“I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for establishing the Office of Election Crimes and Security, and we are off to a great start at eliminating election fraud in our elections,” Secretary of State and Chief Election Officer Cord Byrd said. “These arrests put those who have no regard for the integrity of our elections on notice and will ensure integrity in the voting process.”
“Today is about our honest, hardworking, and law-abiding Floridians,” FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass said. “In Florida, your vote matters. To that end, we will do everything in our power to ensure those who cannot legally vote never cast a ballot.”
“I’m glad to be a part of a team that is working hard to secure our elections,” Director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security Peter Antonacci said. “Our team of highly skilled investigators will conduct a thorough investigation, and if any evidence of election crime is found, there will be criminal sanctions.”
But Florida Rising Executive Director Andrea Mercado complained that the governor was taking actions that make it tougher for people to vote, even as he is only taking actions against people who are not legally allowed to vote.
“No one has done more to violate the integrity of Florida’s elections and make it harder for Floridians to be part of our democracy than Ron DeSantis,” she argued. “If we had a real election integrity department, they would be arresting the governor for erasing Black districts and threatening neighbors helping neighbors cast their ballot.”
“What today shows is not that democracy is working in Florida, it’s that the offices that are trying to turn our state into one-man rule will do whatever they can to distract and deflect from how they have reduced Floridians’ ability to vote and have their voice heard,” she said.
Again, it is important to note that none of the actions taken by the governor in any way affect any Florida resident who is legally allowed to vote.
“As elected leaders, it is incumbent on us to ensure free and fair elections and instill confidence in the voting process,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “No voting system can stand without the backing and confidence of the people it serves, and thanks to Governor DeSantis, we are reinforcing that trust, and Florida’s elections system will serve as the standard-bearer for the rest of the nation.”