Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee responded to the concerns of the Chair of the Democratic party over alleged voter registration irregularities in Miami-Dade County by endorsing Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposal to create an Office of Election Crimes and Security.
Manuel Diaz, the Chair of the Democratic Party, sent a letter to Lee on February 3 seeking an investigation into allegations that voters were unknowingly having their voter registrations changed from Democrat to Republican. Diaz added, “I trust that you are as alarmed as I am by these reports and will uphold your duty as Chief Elections Officer of the State of Florida by ensuring that Florida seniors are not duped or taken advantage of by third party voter registration organizations.”
The Secretary of State responded to Diaz’s request on Twitter by stating, “Reports like this are why the Ofc of Election Crimes & Security proposed by @GovRonDeSantis is a big step forward for protecting voters in Florida. We want to review ALL claims and ensure that those engaged in elections activity in Florida follow the law.”
The allegations were first noted by a local media outlet which reported that “more victims of third-party registrations are coming forward to report that their voter registration was altered without their permission. All of the victims were older than 65 years old, live in Miami-Dade County, and all of them were outraged when they learned they were registered as Republicans.”
In his recent state of the state address, DeSantis announced that to “ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the rule of law, I have proposed an election integrity unit whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida’s election laws. This will facilitate the faithful enforcement of election laws and will provide Floridians with the confidence that their vote will count.”
However, opponents of the proposed legislation say there is no need for more security.
Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said the latest changes weren’t needed: “It’s unfortunate that the reward for the exception process is more limitations … when there’s no shown need.”
And Sen. Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach) told the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, ‘I don’t know why we need this, unless it’s to make a political statement.”
The allegations in Miami-Dade County are not the only recent reports of voter issues in Florida.
Two Jacksonville men were charged with registering dead people to vote this past November. “This was a group working with what we call a third-party organization,” said Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan.
And the Tampa Bay Times recently reported that “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.”
Last week, in a party line vote, a state Senate committee advanced changes to the proposed election laws with a 5-3 vote.
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Manny Diaz” by Florida Democratic Party CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Election Day” by Phil Roeder CC BY 2.0.