Governor DeSantis Puts Teeth on Election Security

Governor DeSantis Puts Teeth on Election Security by Spencer Brown for Town Hall

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law on Monday aimed at ensuring the Sunshine State’s elections are secure. Officially known as Senate Bill 524, the new law instructs Florida’s election officials to take further steps to ensure voter rolls are up-to-date, provides for more transparency in elections and stiffer penalties for fraud, and creates a new office to investigate alleged election irregularities.

The Office of Election Crimes and Security, as it will be called, falls under the Florida Department of State and has multiple duties. In addition to “receiving and reviewing notices and reports generated by government officials or any other person regarding alleged occurrences of election law violations or election irregularities,” the office will launch “independent inquiries” and conduct “preliminary investigations into allegations.” The Office of Election Crimes and Security will also oversee the Florida Department of State’s “voter fraud hotline,” and complete annual reports to be sent to Florida’s governor and legislative leaders.

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Those reports, according to the law, will detail “information on investigations of alleged election law violations or election irregularities conducted” over the previous year. “The report must include the total number of complaints received and independent investigations initiated and the number of complaints referred to another agency for further investigation or prosecution,” the law requires.

In addition, following an increasing number of reports on so-called “Zuckerbucks” — outlined by the Foundation for Government Accountability here — SB 524 includes a “prohibition on use of private funds for election-related expenses.”

Specifically, “[n]o agency or state or local official responsible for conducting elections, including, but not limited to, a supervisor of elections, may solicit, accept, use, or dispose of any donation in the form of money, grants, property, or personal services from an individual or a nongovernmental entity for the purpose of funding any type of expenses related to election administration, including, but not limited to, voter education, voter outreach, voter registration programs, or the cost of any litigation related to election administration.”

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