Florida’s Election Security Office Issues 20 Felony Charges For Voter Fraud

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that 20 charges of voter fraud have been filed by the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security. Authorities are in the process of locating and arresting the individuals charged so they can be prosecuted by the Florida state courts.

DeSantis made the announcement as part of a presentation on election security and integrity at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

The Office of Election Crimes and Security was established on July 1 under a new law passed by the Florida legislature and signed by DeSantis earlier this year. According to the governor, the new office worked with the state Attorney General’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate the alleged crimes and present formal charges.

DeSantis said that the 20 defendants are from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. They all are charged with voting despite being disqualified as a result of prior felony convictions. The persons charged were convicted of either murder or sexual assault before voting illegally.

Florida state law removes the right to vote from persons convicted of serious crimes, and none of the persons charged took legal steps to have their voting rights restored.

If convicted, each of the persons charged with voter fraud could face up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The crimes charged are Florida third-degree felonies.

FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass told reporters that officers have arrested 17 of those charged as of Thursday. The arrests were all made in the Tampa, Orlando, and Miami metropolitan areas.

The defendants charged this week all allegedly voted illegally in the 2020 general election. DeSantis said that the new state election security office is still investigating other possible cases of fraud from that election. The new office is also implementing fraud monitoring systems for upcoming elections.

Describing the work of the new election security office, the governor said that the legislature recognized in its last session that policy reforms need “actual enforcement” to make a difference in security and reliability.

The Office of Election Crimes and Security was established as a part of the Florida State Department by the new legislation. DeSantis appointed attorney Peter Antonacci as the director of the office in July, shortly after it was officially launched.