The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would create an office dedicated to pursuing reports of election crimes and establish a separate police force for the investigations. The bill passed in a 76-41 vote, after the Florida Senate approved it last week.
The bill authorizes the establishment of an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida State Department to probe “allegations of election law violation or election irregularities.” The office would have 15 investigators, who would run a voter fraud hotline and examine claims of election crimes. Additionally, up to 10 law enforcement agents would investigate fraud under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The legislation would have a budget of approximately $3.7 million, according to State Representative Daniel Perez. DeSantis’s original proposal consisted of a 52-member force with a budged of approximately $5.7 million.
Perez stated that this legislation would help election supervisors ensure that “there are absolutely no cases falling through the cracks.” Similarly, State Representative Blaise Ingoglia supported the bill, asserting: “Our job is to make sure our elections are as secure as possible, and you want to know why? Our constituents are demanding it.”
Many Democrats oppose bill. Senator Lori Berman explained, “We know voter fraud is extremely rare. I just don’t understand why we are going to be taking our taxpayer money and creating this quote ‘police force.’”
The bill will now go to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk. DeSantis first proposed a version of this legislation last year and is expected to sign the legislation. DeSantis has praised Florida’s election administration.
This bill is part of a broader bill that would enact new voting restrictions in the state. Florida would become one of the first states with a unit focused on election fraud if this bill is signed into law.