Florida Petition Signature Fraud Reported Amid DeSantis Election Security Proposal

 

As political partisans weigh in against Governor DeSantis’ election security proposal which calls for an election oversight police force, recent reports indicate the presence of significant petition signature fraud in at least six Florida counties related to a gambling petition drive.

The election security proposal by DeSantis would put in place a special police force to help regulate state elections. The proposal seeks approximately $6 million to hire 52 people to enforce election laws and would create the Office of Election Crimes and Security in the Department of State.

Critics note that the law could be used to intimidate voters.

“My number one concern is that this is going to be used as a tool to harass or intimidate civic-engagement organizations and voters,” said Jonathan Diaz, a voting rights lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center.

One state legislator pointed out the new office is not needed since Florida has had no issues during recent elections.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, said “More attacks on voting coming to Florida. Just like in 2020 we had elections last night in our state w/no issues. Why does our Governor keep creating partisan chaos.”

However, less than two months after the DeSantis proposal, supervisors of elections across Florida are concerned about petition signature fraud.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Florida could be in the midst of one of the largest cases of election-related fraud in recent history.” The fraud involves thousands of fraudulent petition forms.

Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus says her office is inundated with likely phony petitions for a proposed constitutional amendment. “This is unacceptable. This should not be a part of our process,” Marcus said. “I took a batch of a hundred, I wanted to go through them personally, and not a single one of these was valid.”

“These are not the voices of our voters,” Marcus said. “What’s happening is you potentially have a person creating people and filling out forms and pretending as though they’re voters.”

A spokeswoman with Florida’s attorney general released the following statement:

“The Attorney General’s Office continues to meet with the Department of State and will continue to assess all available remedies under law. This matter has been referred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigation. For more information, please contact FDLE. Once their review is complete, the Office of Statewide Prosecution will review their findings.”

These election violations have put some of DeSantis’ critics in an uncomfortable position.

For example, less than two months ago, a Miami Herald editorial took the position that Florida did not need any additional election security apparatus. However, this past week, the newspaper is demanding an investigation into the signature fraud which may involve more than 60,000 petitions in Broward County.

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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.

 

 

 

 

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