JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida invested more than $1 million in a new crime unit to investigate voter fraud this year, but according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, the 2022 election hasn’t yielded any arrests.
DeSantis argued the lack of arrests is a sign the unit is working.
Roughly 7.7 million Floridians cast a ballot in the November general election.
It was the largest test to date of the state’s new Election Crimes and Security Unit, which the state funded to the tune of $1.1 million in its first year.
So, Action News Jax asked DeSantis how the unit performed this election cycle.
“Was there anything that happened that was bad that’s going to be investigated? I’m not aware of anything. Of course, I don’t get involved in these individual cases,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis did note the unit investigated alleged ballot harvesting in Orange County, but no evidence of fraud was uncovered.
“We were never notified of any investigation in our county,” said State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.
Eskamani represents parts of Orange County.
She argued the election crime unit is a waste of taxpayer funds.
“After the 2020 election cycle, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged about how well Florida’s elections went, and yet still pursued a politically motivated agenda creating a police elections force,” said Eskamani.
But DeSantis argued the mere existence of the unit acts as a deterrent.
“Why violate the law if you know you’re going to be held accountable? It’s not worth it. So, I think people get that,” said DeSantis.
But Eskamani pushed back, suggesting the unit has done more to scare voters away from the polls than prevent voter fraud.
“We have seen returning citizens be arrested because they thought they could vote cause the state gave them permission to and the governor not be held accountable for doing that at all,” said Eskamani.
The election crime unit has made more than 20 arrests related to previous elections, most of which, as Eskamani mentioned, were of felons who voted despite being ineligible.
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DeSantis argued even one illegal vote can potentially sway a close election.