Legislation to create a separate office to probe voter fraud in the state has been passed by the Florida House of Representatives and now awaits the governor’s signature.
Under CS/SB524 the Office of Election Crimes and Security would investigate claims of voter fraud or election irregularities before passing them along to other law enforcement agencies for possible prosecution.
The measure also revises rules regarding how often election supervisors must review, maintain and update voter registration lists, and clarifies provisions prohibiting candidates from soliciting, accepting, and disposing of private funds for certain election-related expenses.
Under the bill, anyone who collects or submits more than two “vote-by-mail” ballots on behalf of other voters could face felony charges. Organizations that violate election registration laws could be fined $50,000.
In a Facebook post, the League of Women Voters of Florida said the measure would restrict voter access to the polls.
“It is the duty of our state legislature to continue to provide safe and reliable access to the voting booth, not create barriers that stand in the way of Floridians’ freedom to vote,” the organization’s posting said. “SB 524 is unnecessary and could have considerable unintended consequences.”
CS/SB524 was approved by the Florida Senate on March 4 by a 24 to 14 margin.
It was passed by the House on March 9 by a 76 to 14 vote.
It would become effective immediately on DeSantis’ signature.
If signed into law, CS/SB524 would make Florida one of the first states to establish a law enforcement unit focused solely on election fraud.