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DeSantis Aims to Fix Failure to Prosecute Florida Election Crimes

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

A crisis of government malfeasance has hurt the integrity of our elections for well over a decade, and things are only getting worse. Prosecutors, both at the county and federal level, are not prosecuting election crimes.

We now have hard data from Florida that shows serious potential election crimes have been ignored by both county and federal prosecutors in the Sunshine State.

This matters because vote fraud deniers will crow about how rare voter fraud is. If there are few convictions, they will say, then there must not be much fraud.

Whether or not prosecutors are pursuing possible election crimes they know about, however, is the weak link in that logical chain. And for the first time, we have a snapshot of data about failure to pursue election crimes.

This matters because Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed the creation of state authority to investigate and prosecute election crimes.

Let’s examine the data.

In just the 2018 and 2020 federal elections, election officials in just nine large Florida counties made over 150 election crime referrals to county prosecutors. County election officials are probably the best possible origin for an election crime referral. After all, this is their business and they have the experience and know the signs. You can read the full report, “Safe Harbor,” containing all the data here.

These election crime referrals were for acts such as voting twice, voting from illegal addresses, and foreigners voting.

Were all of the referrals lead pipe lock crimes? Maybe, maybe not. But you can bet some were.

Of those 156 referrals, guess how many resulted in actual criminal prosecutions?

If you guessed zero, you’d be right. Not one single county prosecutor did anything. No charges. No arrests. No convictions. As far anyone can tell, no nothing.

This is Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Duval, Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie, and Alachua. The big boys. In Hillsborough County—Tampa—the Soros-funded county election supervisor said he has a policy never to refer election crimes to prosecutors.

When you don’t prosecute election crimes, you get more election crimes.

Recommended: Care About Election Integrity? Let Me Introduce You to ERIC.

For a long time, the Heritage Foundation has been filling a database with election crime convictions and penalties. If there are only a few thousand voter fraud convictions—convictions you can peruse by state here at the Heritage Foundation voter fraud database—vote fraud-deniers like Robert Reich will claim voter fraud isn’t really a problem. Of course we know all cases of theft aren’t caught, much less reduced to a conviction in court.

Imagine if we learned county prosecutors were failing to prosecute theft cases referred by the police.

The data matter also because Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed a solution to this government malfeasance, at least in Florida.

Establishment media, however, have sprung into action to stymie DeSantis. The Tampa Bay Times, after first rejecting an op-ed from this author describing the non-prosecution data in Safe Harbor, published a piece by vote fraud-denier Daniel Ruth: “What will Florida’s voter fraud agents do with all that free time?

The Washington Post was even more disingenuous. Reporter Beth Reinhard was aware of all the data from the Safe Harbor report showing non-prosecution of election crimes by county prosecutors in Florida. She ignored the data in her story and instead asked for the IRS 990 forms of the organization that produced the report.

Priorities.

This same malfeasance has affected the United States Justice Department for the last 14 years. More on that in a moment.

Naturally, the vote fraud-deniers will argue that the cases were probably all too flimsy to prosecute, so the data mean nothing.

Go with that. But anyone with common sense knows better.

I’ve heard all the excuses on the inside and out of government.

In my time at the Voting Section at the United States Department of Justice, I encountered a profound hostility among the rank and file to doing anything about voter fraud. Indeed, I appeared on Fox News numerous times calling for the head of the Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, to be fired because of his role in blocking numerous election crime investigations.

To much fanfare, Pilger resigned in a fury right after the November 2020 election, was lionized on MSNBC, and then we found out he really didn’t resign. He just went on an extended coffee break but is back standing in the way of any federal voter fraud investigations.

Since Obama took office, there have essentially been two federal prosecutions of voter fraud, both because Trump-appointed U.S. Attorneys blasted by Pilger’s blocks. Both were for non-citizens voting in Texas and North Carolina.

Fourteen years. Two federal efforts.

It isn’t as if there aren’t other opportunities. For years, the FBI and U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) were provided with rock-solid information about people voting in Florida and in other states for the same federal election. Snowbird double voters, you might call them.

Instead of doing anything, federal employees with a duty to enforce the law made excuses for the potential criminals. “It might not be the same person.”  Or, “how do we know they voted for the same federal office?” Or better yet, “What if someone was just impersonating them?”

Indeed, because impersonation would be a federal crime also. One way to answer the FBI’s questions is for the FBI to ask them in the field. It doesn’t look like that happened.

When you don’t prosecute election crimes, you get more election crimes.

Some county prosecutors might be forgiven for their failure to enforce the law. It’s likely that nobody in their prosecutor’s office knows what a federal form is or how a voter history file is created or what UOCAVA, NCOA, MOVE, ERIC, or NVRA mean. Election process is complicated, but that’s all the more reason states should have specially trained investigators and prosecutors.

Some county prosecutors might be chicken. They’ve seen how the left browbeats anyone who prosecutes voter fraud. Criminals get turned into heroes for violating election laws. Melowese Richardson—a criminal who admitted she voted for at least five other people for Obama in Cincinnati—was hugged at a rally by Al Sharpton when she was released from jail.

Foreigners voting in Texas are treated like Rosa Parks. It’s an upside-down world.

That’s why something needs to change. If Florida adopts Governor DeSantis’ plan to have the state investigate and prosecute election crimes, they can start with the hundreds of snowbird double voters and other criminals that Florida prosecutors and the FBI have been ignoring for over a decade.