Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that 20 people in his state had been charged with voter fraud in what he described as an “opening salvo” in cracking down on voting violations.
DeSantis said that the Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security and Florida law enforcement had charged 20 people with voter fraud charges as part of a 2020 election integrity investigation. According to the governor, the 20 people charged had voted illegally even though they had been convicted of murder or a sexual offense felony.
“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,” DeSantis said.
The governor also praised Florida’s elections system, saying it was superior in efficiency and transparency in comparison to other states. He also suggested 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 while speaking at a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. “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.”
He noted that there are ongoing investigations into voting by illegal aliens and whether people had voted twice in 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,” he said. “We also have folks who are voting who are illegal aliens.”
The counties where people were charged were Broward, Orange, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach, all counties Joe Biden won in 2020. DeSantis said that his administration did not “want to be selective about” its charges and would be continuing investigations throughout the state.
Florida law enforcement has already arrested 17 of the alleged offenders, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). DeSantis said those arrested would “pay the price” for the alleged voting fraud. If convicted, the individuals could face a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.
“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.”