The far Right’s march to limit voting to the maximum extent possible continues apace.
As initially reported late Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used a speaking event in West Palm Beach to announce his intention to form an election police force. DeSantis’s proposal goes far beyond utilizing already established state law enforcement and dedicating a portion of their time and effort during an election season. No, in these days of budget cuts, DeSantis’s call involves creating an entirely new law enforcement agency with one sole focus.
Citing unspecified examples of election fraud, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday pledged to create a law enforcement agency to investigate election crimes as part of a new package of voting laws.
Speaking at an event in West Palm Beach, the Republican governor announced a series of election law proposals for lawmakers to take up during next year’s legislative session, including new restrictions on ballot drop boxes and strengthened penalties for ballot harvesting.
Normally one expects proposals such as those above as a response to new problems found in an existing activity e.g. “Joint drug task forces.” But as the report states elsewhere, there is broad consensus that Florida’s 2020 election was devoid of any significant fraud, efficient, and entirely accurate. Of course, all the right Republicans won Florida in 2020.
Given this “solution” in search of a problem, DeSantis helpfully cited the pressing issues he wants locked down:
“There’ll be people, if you see someone ballot harvesting, you know, what do you do? If you call into the election office, a lot of times they don’t do anything. If you know that, there’s, you know, in Florida, it’s Constitutionally mandated, only citizens are allowed to vote in Florida, and yet you see examples of people, they’ll even check they’re not citizens, and they’ll still be given ballots,” he said to applause.
First of all, the United States Constitution prohibits voting by non-citizens, DeSantis is disingenuously trying to make Florida sound unique. But far more serious concerns lurk behind DeSantis’s new proposal, not the least of which is that right Republicans did win in Florida, now consider what Georgia might do if this works.
Second, “ballot harvesting”? DeSantis is likely not concerned about an elderly man in a golf cart going up and down the streets of “The Villages” and taking the ballots to the precincts or placing them in drop boxes. Such a nice man is not ballot harvesting, he is simply being neighborly, helping others out – some have trouble getting out of the house and navigating the streets. In reality, the man is also ensuring all the right votes are collected. The two motives are not mutually exclusive, in any context. It is just easier to police elsewhere.
Moreover, DeSantis’s grimacing concern about non-citizens voting is the real tell, the tell no one really needed. First, illegal immigrants do not vote, period. An illegal immigrant would wade through a snake-filled Florida canal before that immigrant would enter a place run by government empowered officials and then give that same government their name, address, and other contact information. This is precisely why there has never been a study or investigation finding more than a handful of extremely isolated cases of non-citizens voting.
But much more importantly, the only means by which such a police force could stop a “non-citizen” from “walking in and picking up a ballot” is by having that law enforcement agent standing in the room during the process and that is what Ron DeSantis really wants. DeSantis knows that there are POC in our community that do not see the police as a force to “protect and serve,” but have experienced “harassment and abuse.”
It is precisely because of modern policing patterns and court penalties that the poor and POC are far more likely to have an unpaid ticket, or missed court date somewhere lingering in the distant past, and rightly fear that something about their “appearance” alone will serve as sufficient probable cause to detain and search. Law enforcement already leans heavily conservative. In a close race, one can almost count upon officers from such an agency looking for the “type” they don’t want voting, which surely motivates DeSantis’s dream.
This is modern Jim Crow, no different than poll taxes, literacy tests, and the like. It is an even more aggressive answer to outlawing “Souls to the Polls” practices, used almost exclusively by Black Americans. Perhaps most disturbingly, the sinister purpose is entirely transparent, the principles are entirely undemocratic, and Ron DeSantis’s supporters entirely don’t care.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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