WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the next legislative session would focus on election integrity, including the creation of a separate office at the state level that would investigate election fraud.
The governor said during a news conference Wednesday “another package of election integrity reform” would be addressed during the next legislative session.
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DeSantis said the session would create a separate office that is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election fraud, which would have law enforcement officers and investigators part of the new office.
“If someone’s ballot harvesting, you report it to these people and this is their sole job,” he said. “Some of these counties, some of them will do the cases but that’s not their expertise. They got all these other crimes that they have to deal with. So by the time it happens, the election’s already over.”
He also said ballot harvesting would be third-degree felony.
Earlier this year, Desantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law that he and other Republicans said would place guardrails against fraud, even as they acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November. Democrats and voter rights advocates said the partisan move will make it harder for some voters to cast ballots.
DeSantis said the new law puts Florida ahead of the curve in preventing any potential fraud.
“Right now I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” the governor said as he signed it. “We’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box.”
The news conference comes several days after a date was set for the Florida legislature’s special session that will focus on providing protections for workers in the state against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The session will start Nov. 15 and go no later than Nov. 19, aiming to help Floridians who have lost their jobs or can potentially lose their jobs when not complying with a mandate.
“Now you have these aggressive potential mandates, which could potentially lead to many people losing their jobs. Some have already been been terminated, and we need to provide protections,” DeSantis said during a news conference, calling for the special session.