(JTNews) – Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that authorities had filed charges against 20 individuals 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, according to the Washington Examiner. “This is the first step. There will be more that happens over the weeks and months [ahead]. And hopefully there’s not a lot of cases that need to be prosecuted for 2022.”
In late April, DeSantis signed a bill to establish a state Office of Election Crimes and Security to pursue election fraud cases and safeguard the process. The law also made “ballot harvesting” a felony and instituted yearly voter roll screens.
Of the 20 facing charges, most have prior convictions of murder or sexual assault, which bars them from voting under Florida law, though they nonetheless cast ballots in the 2020 election, DeSantis stated.
“Now this is only one class of voters that we know have violated the law,” he went on. “There are investigations ongoing into people that have voted in two different jurisdictions, and I imagine you are going to see prosecutions on that. We also have folks who are voting who are illegal aliens.”
Florida became notorious for its ineffective ballot counting during the 2000 presidential election, during which an incredibly close final tally in the state and its heavily scrutinized recount process sent the contest to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state has not witnessed a similar incident since.
DeSantis asserted that, despite the small number of individuals facing charges in the announcement, strict enforcement of election law is necessary to prevent larger issues.
“You can have all these great policy reforms, and it’s important to do it, but if it’s not actually enforced, then what difference is it going to make at the end of the day,” he said. “The fact of the matter is if there are certain rules and regulations in place, if people don’t think that those are going to be enforced, you’re going to have more violations.”