U.S. House ballot access panel takes field trip to Tallahassee, ground zero for election police
Al Lawson.

The first-of-its-kind election police office could intimidate voters, argue leading Democrats.

A congressional panel studying voter turnout traveled to Tallahassee on Wednesday, visiting ground zero for Florida’s recently enacted election laws that Democrats have likened to voter suppression.

The U.S. House Elections Subcommittee, chaired by North Carolina Democratic U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, staged the field trip in an effort to spotlight ballot access in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a pair of election laws Democrats say will intimidate voters and make it harder to cast a ballot. Within one of the measures (SB 524), signed exactly a month ago, is a provision creating a first-of-its-kind election crimes investigation office.

Butterfield called the creation of the Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State a troubling and disappointing development. There is no evidence of election fraud and crimes, he suggested, and establishing election police would politicize the election process more than necessary.

“Enacting laws such as this does not bolster election integrity,” Butterfield said. “Rather, it creates a serious risk of voter and election administrator intimidation, and it perpetuates the false narrative that American elections are not secure.”

The hearing, held mere blocks from the Florida Department of State’s offices, was part of the subcommittee’s tour of U.S. states and their election laws. The subcommittee has visited Democratic-led New Mexico and Republican-led Texas in past hearings.

It also comes as Florida’s 2021 election law (SB 90) winds its way through the federal courts. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel with the 11th U.S. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the state to temporarily reinstate portions of the law, which a lower court had deemed unconstitutional.

Some voting rights advocates and Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have likened the wave of Republican-driven election laws to “Jim Crow 2.0.” Witnesses during the hearing, too, noted Florida’s history of disenfranchising Black voters.

Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee suggested the hearing could’ve been held just 17 miles to the north in Georgia, which saw record voter turnout during their Primary Election on Tuesday.

“The only state I can think would be better to be in today would be Georgia, where we can celebrate record voter turnout despite all the claims made on the left of attempts to limit voter access,” Steil said. “What we actually saw yesterday in Georgia was record voter turnout, both on the Democrat and on the Republican side despite there (not) even being a competitive Democratic Primary. I’d say that’s success.”

The House passed the “For the People Act” (HR 1) more than a year ago. The Senate has not taken up the measure, largely because Democrats lack the support to break a filibuster on the measure.

Steil criticized Democrats’ proposed federal standards for protections for the right to vote. Local rules are better suited to address election concerns, he added.

Democrats used their panel of witnesses to hammer against the need for stricter voting laws at the state level. Tallahassee Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, who played as a host for the hearing, asked All Voting Is Local Florida State Director Brad Ashwell whether the election police unit would open the door to voter intimidation and harassment.

“The Secretary of State is appointed by the Governor and serves at that Governor’s pleasure. It’s very much an instrument of the Governor, and this law enforcement office is directly under it,” Ashwell said.

In answering another question from Lawson, Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt told the committee making changes during an election year can be intimidating. Voters aren’t familiar with the new processes, she continued.

“The term ‘election police’ is intimidating in itself, because the citizens don’t know if there are going to be officers at the polling place,” Holt said.

Gainesville Republican U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack said the recent changes to Florida’s voting laws have made the Sunshine State the gold standard in election administration.

“This should not be a Republican versus Democrat issue. This is an American issue,” Cammack said. “I would hope that, instead of chasing political agendas, we can chase truth and … bolster electoral security so that everyone goes to the ballot box knowing that their vote is being counted as cast and intended.”

Republicans largely leaned on testimony from Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson.

“In order to remain at the tip of the spear in elections, in security and administration, we have to take a proactive response and I believe so in the state of Florida is doing,” Anderson said.

Questions about election integrity would be “put to bed” if the nation followed Florida’s election model, said Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, who was Mayor of Miami-Dade County during the 2020 election.

“Frankly, much of the rhetoric about access and somehow we’re restricting voting, it’s just that, it’s rhetoric. And actually, it runs counter to what this committee wants to do, which is to create confidence in our election system,” Giménez said. “I can tell you, with 100% accuracy, there is confidence in Florida state’s election system.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • PeterH

    May 27, 2022 at 9:22 am

    Millions of taxpayer dollars on a wingnut hunting expedition for a problem that does not exist. The trickle of Florida voter fraud in the 2020 election occurred by Republicans for Republicans and had absolutely no impact on the election results. Are these employees full time twelve month a year salaried with benefits and retirement? What exactly are their responsibilities for ten months per year?

    • Bill

      May 27, 2022 at 3:28 pm

      Two million, taxpayer funded dollars worth of red meat for the base. Unbelievable.

      • Tom

        May 28, 2022 at 2:47 pm

        States must run fair and honest elections. . Corrupt Dum, Dem Manchurians only want to control illegal voting.

        America’s Gov is ensuring that Florida will not go the way of PA, and Wisconsin. Recently, it was discovered that 5 urban cities in WS allowed the paying of private drop boxes. This clearly corrupted the vote total. These corrupt unlawful shenanigans must be stopped. PA Governor Wolff has used corrupting tactics as recently, after the absentee ballot shenanigans in 2016. He struck again In Repub. Senate primary. The courts are totally compromised and corrupted by Wolff.

        Gov DeSantis is protecting the sacrosanct right to vote. Voting integrity saves a Democratic republic.

        We cannot allow Florida to become like other blue corrupt states.

        Florida stands for freedom and economic prosperity for the middle class. America’s future must not be corrupted as was in 2000.

        This is the Dem Dum playbook.

        • Bill

          May 30, 2022 at 7:51 am

          I’m sure I’ll regret asking but what’s with the manchurian stuff? I like Indian food myself but …

          “Manchurian is a class of Indian Chinese dishes made by roughly chopping and deep-frying ingredients such as chicken, cauliflower, prawns, fish, mutton, and paneer, and then sautéeing it in a sauce flavored with soy sauce. Wikipedia”

          • YYep

            June 5, 2022 at 11:43 am

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        • Remember

          June 3, 2022 at 7:19 am

          Intimidate us we intimidate you

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  • Don

    May 30, 2022 at 7:45 am

    Tax ‘n Spend DeSantis at it again. Such a dum dem lib douch wasting money like this

  • Chet

    May 30, 2022 at 7:52 am

    No one likes Harris. But Harris beats DeSantis in polls. Trump beats them both. So DeSantis is DeDone. Florida stepped in a huge fat pile of DeSantis and Trump is going to scrape that foot clean.

  • John Barron

    May 30, 2022 at 7:59 am

    DeSantis is such a Trump copycat he gets on this site and posts as “Tom” like Trump used to do talking to the press but using a fake name.

    • Tom

      May 30, 2022 at 1:02 pm

      I am real Tom, LMAO.
      I own you Dem talking points Manchurians. U all are Dem Manchurians, Soros owned and unable to think on your own without talking points from news networks.
      Scurrilous and pathetic. I suffer you all happily and with joy!

      You have abandoned USA for pure unadulterated socialism. How’s your AOC/Sanders green hating carbon bad deal now!

      Repub. Conservatives are populists, espousing equality for all. We are the party of blue collar, working class and middle class. 40 new, house seats, up to 70 new if recession House seats, swing to new GOP. America’s Gov, Marco and down ballot win bigly. Chameleon or fraud, and Dum Demings no chance.

      I am the legend Tom, Tom is not America’s Gov Ron. The GOP is blessed to have Ron, Casey and family! He is a leader of men/women and is with the peeps. Florida is a rising tide for all, not a few like incompetent Biden, joke Harris.

      As your emperor Obummer said in 2010, you got a shellacking coming! I improvise.

      America’s Gov #1, Florida the Mecca for freedom, liberty and opportunity.
      Even for Manchurians like u! Enjoy!

Comments are closed.


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