TALLAHASSEE: Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security just released a required annual report on its first year of activity.
Created last year with the passage of SB 524 by Florida’s state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the 15-person office is costing Florida taxpayers $1.2 million in 2022-2023.
Statement from Amy Keith, Common Cause Florida’s Program Director
Florida’s last two elections were fair and secure, a fact Gov. Ron DeSantis himself praised after the 2020 elections. We also know violations of election law by voters remain an exceedingly rare occurrence.
Despite all that, the state of Florida moved into dangerous territory with the creation of the unnecessary Office of Election Crimes and Security last year.
Now that we have this official accounting into this unnecessary office’s first year of existence, we can see that what this office is truly succeeding at is its unstated mission to inject fear and confusion into our voting process.
The goal of suppressing voter turnout through fear was accomplished, with the high-profile arrests of 20 formerly incarcerated Floridians just days before the primary election — despite the fact that many of those targeted had received Voter Information Cards from their local election office.
Instead of investing the resources needed to ensure that people can know and understand their voting eligibility, the state is putting money into this office which is playing a game of “gotcha” with people who thought they were eligible to vote.
We as a state need to be thinking about how to make sure that every one of us can exercise our right to vote without barriers, instead of using our precious public dollars to criminalize the voting process.
We are again calling on state legislators to direct these funds to places where it’s actually needed, such as improving funding for county Supervisors of Elections and expanding voter education outreach.