On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law that would create a new police unit dedicated to election law enforcement in his state. Senate Bill 524 mandates a yearly review and updating of the state’s voter records to eliminate illegal voters, tighten voter ID requirements, and enhance penalties for various election-related offenses. It creates the Office of Election Crimes and Security inside the Department of State, which is responsible for investigating election law infractions. The law also directs the Secretary of State to submit a report and draft legislation for any future action to increase voter ID requirements.
DeSantis stated in a press release, “Twenty years ago, nobody thought Florida was a prime example of how to conduct elections, but we have become a national leader by running the most secure elections in the country. We need to do more to ensure our elections remain secure. We have ended ballot harvesting, stopped drop boxes and the mass mailing of ballots, and banned Zuckerbucks, and this bill will give us more resources to make sure bad actors are held accountable.”
According to Politico, the state’s Department of Law Enforcement will be able to hire more detectives. The two agencies have a $2.6 million budget and 25 employees set aside by state lawmakers. In 2020, DeSantis proposed the creation of a specialized election crimes unit in response to Republican requests for a complete audit of his state’s election results. The new law is the most recent in a lengthy list of conservative legislative demands signed into law by DeSantis.
He signed HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, into law on March 28. He also signed legislation earlier this month that gives Florida families the ability to visit loved ones in hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities, as well as allocating more than $70 million to encourage fatherhood in the state. Additionally, he introduced a redistricting proposal that would give Republicans four more favorable districts, virtually nullifying Democrats’ redistricting victories.
Desantis also recently approved legislation essentially prohibiting Critical Race Theory from being taught in schools and eliminated Disney’s special tax status citing concerns about the company’s “woke” social agenda.