In response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “major announcement” of arrests made in tandem with the Office of Election Crimes and Security, the League of Women Voters of Florida releases the following statement:
The League of Women Voters of Florida unequivocally values protecting the integrity of our elections. However, our organization and many other voting rights experts have long cautioned leaders to not undermine our free and fair access to the ballot in the name of preventing rare instances of voter fraud. The Governor’s choice to host a press conference, during an early voting period, highlighting arrests of individuals with felony convictions who have been accused of wrongfully voting, has the potential to intimidate large swaths of lawful voters and discourage them from participating in our great democracy.
The Governor’s announcement has made it clear that Florida’s new election police force will be directed to target and intimidate certain blocks of voters while other known election crimes are ignored. At the press conference, the Governor and several law enforcement agencies spoke, but no one made mention of arrests for well known election related crimes such as changing voters party affiliation without consent, soliciting citizens to vote twice by a prominent party official,or the planting of “ghost” candidates that altered the outcome of at least one state Senate race.
While the Governor attempted to highlight how safe and secure our elections systems in Florida were in the 2020 election, he coupled it with sentiments about potential fraud that create needless doubt in the minds of Floridians about whether their vote truly counts. The latter sentiments he expressed should be rejected. Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections have worked tremendously hard and have been largely successful in ensuring that our elections are fair, honest and accurate.
During the press event, speakers repetitively touched on following the rule of law and that state officials would harshly enforce all laws regarding voting. These comments were in stark contrast to the Governor’s admission earlier this year that the redistricting map he drew and advocated for did not presently comply with the Fair District Amendments of the Florida Constitution. It seems that the Governor believes that some laws like voting laws and laws prosecuting women for getting abortions should be followed zealosuly, while others including requiring fair redistricting can be flouted without fear.
Given the administration’s focus on prosecuting those who vote without completing all parts of their felony sentences, the League would like to remind persons with felony convictions who have questions about their ability to vote to seek a pro bono legal referral from the League of Women Voters of Florida. Please call the League’s dedicated hotline (407-710-5496) or email (email@example.com) for a referral to pro bono legal advisor.
Media Contact: Blake Summerlin, firstname.lastname@example.org — Cell: 772-217-0772