FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA — Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that the state of Florida has charged and is in the process of arresting 20 individuals for voter fraud. DeSantis said at a press conference that the individuals were all disqualified from voting because they had been convicted of either murder or sexual assault. The arrests occurred across the state, but the majority of them were located in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
DeSantis also emphasized that the arrests underscore his administration’s commitment to enforcing the law and protecting election integrity. The governor indicated that he expects more arrests to be announced in the future.
In April, DeSantis signed SB 524 with a focus on improving election security. In addition to strengthening voter ID requirements and maintenance of voter rolls, the bill established the Office of Election Crimes and Security to investigate election law violations and increased penalties for violations of election laws. The bill also increased the penalty for ballot harvesting from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years probation.
“This is something where we sprung into action very quickly,” DeSantis said. “We got the money July first, already have hired people, already going to work. And I think it shows that this is something that we take very seriously as a state.”
Additional speakers at the press conference included Attorney General Ashley Moody; Secretary of State Cord Byrd; Mark Glass, acting commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and Pete Antonacci, Director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security. DeSantis appointed Antonacci to the new position last month.
“We are so proud of Pete Antonacci and his team,” Moody said. “We must have elected leaders that are ensuring free and fair elections, and also assuring our public and the citizens that they can have confidence in the election process.”
DeSantis also took a shot at the federal government: “We want the federal government to be working constructively with us on these investigations, and I would say so far that has not really been the case,” he said. “I think their interests lie elsewhere.”
Addressing those who might consider violating election law, Glass said, “Please don’t do it, because we’re coming.”