The first arrests from DeSantis’s election police take extensive toll

April 30, 2023 ☼ electiondesantisflorida

Source: The Washington Post (Link)

One by one, many of the initial 20 arrests announced by the Office of Election Crimes and Security have stumbled in court. Six cases have been dismissed. Five other defendants accepted plea deals that resulted in no jail time. Only one case has gone to trial, resulting in a split verdict. The others are pending.

In its first nine months, the new unit made just four other arrests, according to a report the agency released earlier this year. Critics say the low numbers point to the overall strength of Florida’s electoral system and a lack of sufficient evidence to pursue further charges. Nonetheless, as he gears up for a possible presidential run, DeSantis is moving to give the office more teeth, asking the legislature to nearly triple the division’s annual budget from $1.2 million to $3.1 million. The Republican governor also pushed through a bill ensuring the statewide prosecutor has jurisdiction over election crime cases — an attempt to resolve an issue several judges have raised in dismissing cases.