WASHINGTON, D.C.—Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said the Sunshine State’s new efforts to prosecute voter fraud are key to election security.
“Last year the governor championed the Office of Election Crimes and Security,” Byrd told The Daily Signal. “So, we are telling everybody we take our election law seriously.”
Byrd was in Washington this week for the annual meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, established the Office of Election Crimes and Security in August 2022, and since that time 20 people have been charged with election-related crimes.
However, DeSantis’ critics in the media and Democrats have slammed the unit, noting that some of those arrested were not convicted.
The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database topped 1,400 provable cases in January, several coming out of Florida. (The Heritage Foundation is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.)
Recent arrests include two convicted felons who illegally voted. Another man pleaded guilty after he changed the voter registration address of DeSantis on the state’s online voter registration database. Law enforcement officials traced the IP address back to him. Another man got a mail-in ballot for his late wife in the 2020 election and forged her name. These new cases, added to the database, ended in guilty pleas.
“We are investigating election fraud. It does happen. It is real,” Byrd said. “We are sending that message to honest people that you can trust your vote is being counted and not being diluted by a fraudulent vote, and telling the bad actors we are going to hold you accountable.”
This month, the Florida state Legislature passed a bill to give a statewide prosecutor in Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office the authority to bring voter fraud charges. DeSantis requested the bill.
“It’s one of his No. 1 election integrity priorities. The surest way to undermine confidence in government is for a government not to enforce its laws,” Byrd said.
“For a long time, election laws—for whatever reason—they weren’t enforced,” he noted. “I don’t know if it was too complicated, it’s inherently political. The local state attorneys or prosecutors didn’t want to get involved. The governor and the Legislature decided our laws are meant to be enforced. We take it seriously and you’re not going to play games in Florida.”
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