Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a measure on Monday that establishes a police team committed to combating voter fraud and other election offenses.
The new statute, known as S.B. 524, establishes the Office of Election Crimes and Security to examine voting fraud accusations. It makes ballot harvesting a third-degree crime punishable by up to five years in jail, up from a first-degree misdemeanor. It also mandates that the Florida Department of State enhance ID requirements for mail-in ballots, that voter lists be verified for ineligible voters every year, and that election supervisors are not paid with so-called Zuckerbucks.
The name “Zuckerbucks” alludes to Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, who funds electoral activities. The Zuckerberg-Chan Initiative, which Zuckerberg and his wife formed, provided more than $350 million to local state jurisdictions during the 2020 election cycle to purportedly assist counties run their elections securely amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
The legislation I signed today will continue to make Florida a leader in election integrity by increasing penalties for ballot harvesting, expanding our ban on Zuckerbucks, and establishing an election integrity unit in state government to enforce our laws. pic.twitter.com/FPez9uf1gU— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 25, 2022
However, according to a study published by the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, several counties in Pennsylvania allegedly utilized monies for ‘get out the vote’ activities and for expenditures unrelated to the fund’s stated purpose. The Center for Tech and Civic Life, which dispersed the funding from the Zuckerberg-Chan Initiative, gave $20 million to the Pennsylvania Department of State and 23 local governments.
“The legislation I signed today will continue to make Florida a leader in election integrity by increasing penalties for ballot harvesting, expanding our ban on Zuckerbucks, and establishing an election integrity unit in state government to enforce our laws,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter, praising the bill.
Democrats, who make up the state Legislature’s minority party, have slammed the law, accusing DeSantis of using it to court Republican voters who feel the 2020 election results were rigged while he considers a presidential bid.