Aug 18, 2022 - News

DeSantis announces voter fraud charges against 20 people

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference Thursday at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced charges against 20 people for allegations they illegally voted in the 2020 election.

Driving the news: DeSantis said those being arrested had been formerly convicted of murder or sex offenses, the two crimes exempt from a state amendment that restored voting rights to most former felons.

  • Most of the individuals live in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, he said.

Context: DeSantis, who spoke at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, said the criminal investigations were led by the Office of Election Crimes and Security, which the governor approved in April to tackle voter fraud.

  • DeSantis said the office is investigating other cases involving Florida voters who cast ballots in two states and foreign nationals who voted in Florida.

What they're saying: Peter Antonacci, director of the new election crimes office, said 20 votes may not seem significant but pointed to U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick's five-vote victory in a Democratic primary last November.

  • "This is the day we begin taking fraud seriously," Antonacci said.

Of note: The election crimes office will ask that all 67 supervisors of elections in Florida preserve documentation from the 2020 election until any criminal investigations are complete, the governor said.

Between the lines: Studies have found that voter fraud is rare. An Associated Press investigation of the 2020 presidential election found fewer than 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in six battleground states where former President Trump disputed his loss.

Flashback: A ProPublica investigation last month revealed that 10 Florida men with felony convictions who've been charged with voter fraud in the 2020 election registered to vote with the help of an Alachua County election official.

  • Prosecutors who say the men registered and voted illegally have proceeded with the charges, but no charges have been filed against county officials.

Go deeper: Read ProPublica's report


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