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Florida GOP plans to create election police force, raise alarms

TALLAHASSEE (CBS)

When Governor Ron DeSantis and Republicans proposed creating a special police force to investigate voter fraud, suffrage advocates worried that the new unit could target minorities and confuse voters.

Cecile Scoon, who runs the Florida Federation of Nonpartisan Women Voters, said the plan was designed to prevent minorities from voting.

“Why should you vote harder?” Scoon told CBS News Senior White House and Political Correspondent Ed O’Keefe.

“Take law enforcement and have them around looking for the problem… There is concern and there is fear and there is a chilling element that they will target Black people,” she said.

DeSantis first introduced the idea last year.

“This will facilitate honest enforcement of electoral laws and will give Floridians confidence that their vote will matter,” he said.

The current proposal is 25 investigators and officers in multiple departments. DeSantis and Florida Republicans are also pushing for new legislation that, among other things, adds ID requirements for absentee ballots.

Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the elections, spoke with O’Keefe about the proposal.

“We are very confident that we have reached a great intersection between making voting accessible and keeping voting secure,” she said.

“If it is so easy, convenient and safe, why do you need to make all these changes?” O’Keefe asked.

“Every election offers an opportunity to look at what went well and what could have been better,” Lee said.

The plan comes as former President Donald Trump lied about the 2020 election dividing the Republican Party, with the most recent rebuttal to those claims coming from his former vice president, Mike Pence. However, many Republicans are embracing and even promoting such lies.

Allegations of voter fraud have been rare in Florida since the 2020 election. Of the more than 11 million votes cast, only four were arrested for trying to vote twice. However, Lee said she supports the new electoral police unit.

“We simply didn’t have the resources to be the partner we wanted to be in state and local law enforcement,” Lee said. “These resources will allow us to do more to support our partnerships with those groups and prepare for any challenges to come.”

Democrats in the state legislature were strongly opposed.

Tina Senator Scott Polsky said: “I think we should be afraid of a political election police squad.

The new proposals come just nine months after DeSantis signed another law with voting restrictions such as restricting the use of voting boxes. That law is currently being challenged in federal court.

“It really is an unnecessary law,” said Leon County Elections Supervisor Mark Earley.

Earley, who is set to testify this week, is trying to keep up with all the changes.

“They can make the law, but we need to make sure the law works. And so that’s really become an important part of my job now,” he said.

Earley worries that all the changes will confuse voters and expose the staff and volunteers he needs to run the election.

“It’s become so controversial and counterintuitive that there’s some special feeling that you’re really part of a team of trustworthy people working to make democracy work,” he said.

Republicans in at least two other states are having similar ideas. In Georgia, GOP gubernatorial candidate David Perdue has pledged to create his own election police force. And in Arizona, a Republican senator proposed legislation to create an “electoral office” with subpoena power.

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/08/florida-gop-plans-to-create-election-police-force-raising-alarms/ Florida GOP plans to create election police force, raise alarms

Tom Vazquez

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