Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida decided to make his big push for higher office at the end of 2021, as Donald Trump’s popularity began to wane and Ron became the not-Donald-Trump version of Donald Trump that might just be able to stampede his way into a GOP dictatorship. One of his first moves was to both nod at the MAGA anti-Democracy voters, while positioning himself as a guy who gets things done. To do this, DeSantis announced he would be cracking down on the electoral laws that he personally signed and made laws. This included things like “investigating” electoral fraud, or what DeSantis vaguely called “election crimes.”
To do this, DeSantis said he would be creating a
gestapo unit to scare people away from voting. That is the Cliff’s Notes of this statement: “We are going to create a separate office at the state level solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election crimes in the state of Florida. We’ll [have] sworn law enforcement officers as part of this, we’ll have investigators, we’ll have the statewide prosecutor that’s able to bring the cases.”
Then in August, DeSantis announced that his crack team of
brownshirts investigators had arrested and charged “20” Floridians with illegally voting. DeSantis doesn’t answer questions and left before reporters could verify the veracity of the Florida governor’s claims. It turns out that there were indeed 19 Floridians arrested and charged with “election crimes,” but it also turned out that most of those people had been told by Florida officials that they could vote.
RELATED STORY: It seems many of the 19 Floridians arrested by DeSantis' election Gestapo were told they could vote
The Washington Post decided to speak with some of the people that Ron DeSantis is trying to use as an example of elector fraud. This included people like 53-year-old Leo Grant, who was surprised when three agents arrested him while he was on his way to fish. “I’ve been a good father, and I follow the law,” he thought. “I do good for the community. And here they come to my house and pick me up for voting?”
Grant had served time for a sexual offense conviction back in 1999, and when he registered to vote had not had any problem. Grant’s story seems to be the norm. Most of the people DeSantis’ goon squad arrested and charged were Black, and most of them (if not all) had gone through standard channels to register to vote. These are not people who stole someone else’s identity in order to vote. These are not people pretending to be deceased citizens—that’s what Republican voter fraudsters do, it seems. In many cases, the people DeSantis is preying on were given what they believed was a green light by the state.
“If the state is unable to determine that these people were not eligible to vote, how on earth are these individuals themselves supposed to know?” asked Daniel A. Smith, a University of Florida political science professor and expert on state and national election laws. “It’s really unconscionable. … They’re punching down and targeting the low-hanging fruit.”
Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes told the Post that the clear hyperbole on the part of DeSantis is creating suffering in people who seem to have had no idea they were thwarting our democracy. They did everything right. “They have jobs. They have businesses. They have families. And now all the sudden they’re being put under arrest for something they thought was doing their civic duty.”
But that’s the GOP way. If Republicans like DeSantis truly cared about election integrity, they would spend the money and the resources on making sure the government worked to secure that integrity. Instead, after defunding and putting cronies into important positions in government, they punish the people who were naive enough to believe that the government knew what the laws were. Of course, this has the added effect of allowing craven politicians like DeSantis the chance to blame “big government” for not working for people, while also being the cause of “big government” not working for people.
DeSantis has spent his time in Florida trying to run for higher office. He has wasted millions of his constituents’ tax dollars fighting culture wars, attacking trans children, attacking teachers, attacking American history, attacking common sense public health policy. Gov. DeSantis is still favored to win in Florida, but he’s also an elephant in the China shop of humanity, and like the man he apes, is prone to sticking his whole inadequate mind into his mouth.
While Republicans try to overturn elections and make it harder to vote, volunteer to help save democracy by encouraging people to cast their ballots. Click here to view hundreds of local and national Get Out the Vote opportunities on the Daily Kos Mobilize feed, and sign up to volunteer on a national campaign or one near you.
Florida’s DeSantis says he’s going to crack down on things he signed into law
DeSantis’ ‘culture war’ laws have cost Florida taxpayers 10 times more than planned
Gov. DeSantis says quiet thing about abortion out loud and then runs away from reporters
Black woman gets 5 years for voting once; no charges for NC woman who voted twice