DeSantis Announces Arrest of 20 Individuals for Voter Fraud

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the arrest of 20 individuals for alleged voter fraud. According to the governor, despite having felony records that preclude them from legally voting, they cast a ballot in the 2020 election.

In his announcement, DeSantis made sure to thank the newly created Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security, as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for conducting the investigation that led to the arrests.

The 20 suspects had previously been convicted of felonies — which include murder or a sexual offense — removing their right to vote in elections. Now, they are facing a third-degree felony charge for voter fraud, which could see them paying a maximum $5,000 fine and serving a five-year prison sentence.

“In 2020, Florida ran an efficient, transparent election that avoided the major problems we saw in other states,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Thursday. “At the same time, the election was not perfect, which is why we continue our efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

“Our new election crimes office has sprung into action to hold individuals accountable for voter fraud,” he added. “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.”

In 2021, DeSantis announced that his administration would be taking steps to prioritize ensuring the security of future elections. In March of 2022, Florida passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security, which was focused on securing election integrity through “pre- and post-election audits, continual assessment and strengthening of our elections cybersecurity, and developing partnerships.”

Thursday’s arrests were the result of the first investigation conducted by the office.

Director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security Peter Antonacci pointed out that, while 20 votes may not sound like a lot, it has the potential to make a significant difference.

“And you may think that 20 voters is not a lot, but you’re in Broward County, and you know that you just elected a person to congress here – this year – by five votes,” Antonacci said.

DeSantis went on to note that this is just the beginning, suggesting that there would be more charges coming for voter fraud.

“It’s not just going to be 20 arrests — this is the opening salvo of an office that was just set up on July 1,” he said. “This is the first step. There will be more that happen over the weeks and months [ahead]. And hopefully there’s not a lot of cases that need to be prosecuted for 2022.”

The governor made sure to mention that there are ongoing investigations into voting by illegal aliens, as well as people voting twice from different areas.

“There are investigations ongoing into people that have voted in two different jurisdictions, and I imagine you are going to see prosecutions on that,” DeSantis said. “We also have folks who are voting who are illegal aliens.”

CBS News reported that some people have expressed concern that the governor’s new election crimes office will intimidate voters.

Cecile Scoon, the president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a statement to the news outlet that she is afraid of how law enforcement will be utilized.

Scoon stated, “It’s potentially threatening people. They feel these police — how are they going to be utilized? Are they going to be standing over people’s shoulders?”

During the press conference on Thursday, FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass assured the public that investigations into voter fraud are focused on protecting law-abiding citizens.

“Today is about our honest, hardworking and law-abiding Floridians,” 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.”

Watch the full press conference below: