On Monday, GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to establish a police force whose sole task is to pursue voter fraud and other election crimes in order to embrace a top priority of Republicans after former President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him in 2020.
The new piece of legislation comes as DeSantis made voting legislation a focus this year.
The governor has been pushing the Republican-controlled statehouse to create this kind of policing unit as states are starting to reevaluate their own election systems amid Trump’s allegations.
DeSantis is running for reelection but is widely considered to be a promising 2024 presidential candidate, and he has both praised the previous election as smooth and suggested that more rules were necessary to deter fraud, highlighting Trump’s influence on Republican policymaking.
Critics of the new Florida law have deemed it strictly politically motivated and unnecessary, claiming that local prosecutors are equipped enough to handle election crimes.
DeSantis justified the need for the new unit at the bill signing ceremony on Monday at a sports bar in Spring Hill, Florida, and he further suggested that existing law enforcement may not have the tools enough to thoroughly investigate fraud cases.
“Some of them may not care as much about the election stuff. I think it’s been mixed at how those reactions are going to be. So we just want to make sure whatever laws are on the books, that those laws are enforced,” he said.
The law slates the creation of an Office of Election Crimes and Security under the Florida Department of State to go over fraud allegations and conduct preliminary investigations. DeSantis will have to appoint a group of special officers from the Florida Department of law Enforcement who would have to pursue violations of the state’s election law.
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