The bill, SB 524, takes several steps to ensure free and fair elections in the Sunshine State by creating new penalties for ballot harvesting, strengthening voter ID requirements and creating a state police unit “to investigate election law violations.”
The law establishes the Office of Election Crimes and Security, a 15-member office assigned to assist in election crime investigations.
It also gives DeSantis the power to appoint up to 10 law enforcement officers to help the Florida Department of Law Enforcement review allegations of election fraud.
A press release from the DeSantis office triumphantly covered the bill’s signing:
“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,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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.”
“Governor DeSantis has made elections integrity a top priority from the very beginning of his administration, taking steps to ensure we invested in our elections systems, strengthened our cyber defenses, modernized equipment, updated voter rolls, and improved transparency, and we’ve seen results,” said Florida Secretary of State, Laurel M. Lee. “As Florida’s Chief Elections Official, I share Governor DeSantis’ strong commitment to elections integrity. We want to ensure that every Floridian can have confidence that in Florida, we do elections right.”
“Florida leads the nation in free and fair elections because Governor DeSantis and the Legislature have taken a proactive approach to address any issues,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Voter confidence in the integrity of our elections is essential to maintaining a democratic form of government, and I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for making election integrity in this state a focus of his administration. When people and organizations interfere with Florida elections, there are consequences.” “I am proud to have worked with Governor DeSantis and his team to deliver a transformational elections reform bill,” said Senator Travis Hutson. “This law puts Florida at the forefront of election security and transparency.”
“In 2020, Florida set the example of a well-run election for the rest of the nation to see,” said Representative Daniel Perez. “SB 524 is an example of our commitment to always do better and continue to be the best state in the nation for secure and accurate election results.” SB 524 increases the penalty for ballot harvesting from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and up to five years of probation.
Before Monday Florida didn’t have a law enforcement unit solely dedicated to investigating election crimes.
The law also asks the Florida Department of State to develop a plan for strengthening voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots no later than Feb. 1, 2023.
To read more about the law, click here.