WASHINGTON (AP) — StateLaw enforcement units at the highest levels that were created following the 2020 presidential elections to investigate voter fraud are currently investigating scattered complaints for more than two months after the fact. midterms But they did not indicate any systemic problems.
That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more about politics than rooting out widespread abuses. Most fraud related to election are already under investigation and prosecuted at local levels.
After the 2020 election, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia established special state-level units. All were pushed by Republican governors or attorneys general.
“I am not aware of any significant detection of fraud on Election Day, but that’s not surprising,” Paul Smith, Senior Vice President of the Campaign Legal Center. “The whole concept of voter impersonation fraud is such a horribly exaggerated problem. It doesn’t change the outcome of the election, it’s a felony, you risk getting put in jail and you have a high possibility of getting caught. It’s a rare phenomena.”
It is crucial to avoid widespread fraud the lies The area surrounding the 2020 presidential election Trump and his associates have spread the word and undermined voter trust. In the run-up to this year’s elections, 45% of Republicans had little to no confidence That votes would be accurately counted.
A Associated Press investigation discovered that there was no widespread fraud Georgia and the five other battleground states where Trump disputed his 2020 loss, and so far there is no indication of that in this year’s elections. Certification of the results Most states are going well, with very few complaints.
Trump attempted to press Georgian officials to sign the agreement. “find” enough votes to overturn his loss, a new law gives the state’s top law enforcement agency, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, authority to initiate investigations of alleged election fraud without a request from election officials. The alleged violation should be substantial enough to affect or create doubt as to the outcome of an electoral election.
Nelly Miles, spokesperson at GBI, said that no investigations have been initiated under the statute. The agency is assisting the secretary of state’s office in an investigation of a breach of voting equipment in Coffee County In 2021, however, that is its only recent investigation into election fraud, she stated in an email.
This breach was discovered earlier in the year by officials from a county that voted in Trump by almost 40 percent in 2020, as well as some prominent supporters of Trump.
State Jasmine Clark, a Democrat, stated that the lack of investigations confirms the criticisms that this law is unnecessary. She said that the mere prospect of an investigation by the GBI could make it difficult for people to work as poll workers or in any other part of the voting process.
“In this situation, there was no actual problem to be solved,” Clark said. “This was a solution looking for a problem, and that’s never the way that we should legislate.”
Florida was the most prominent state. creating its Office of Election Crimes and Security With much fanfare, this year’s keeping was celebrated. a pledge that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis made Unspecified election fraud will be combated in 2021.
The Florida Department of State. It reviews the allegations and assigns state law enforcement the responsibility of investigating violations.
DeSantis has announced this summer that the election unit had arrested 20 People were arrested for illegally voting during the 2020 election. The state had 14.4million registered voters. It was the first major election held since a state constitution amendment restored voting rights for felons. This included those convicted for murder or felony sexual crimes, and those who owe fines or fees.
Court records show that 20 people were able, despite having been convicted of a felony, to register to vote. They believed they could legally cast their ballots. At least part of the confusion stems from language in the voter registration forms that requires applicants to swear they are not a felon — or if they are, that they have had their rights restored. These forms don’t ask about past convictions for murder or felony sexual assault.
Robert Lee Wood, 56, was arrested after he was surrounded his home by police officers. He spent two days in prison. Wood’s lawyer, Larry Davis, said his client did not think he was breaking the law because he was able to register to vote without issue. Davis called it law enforcement’s reaction “over the top” In this instance.
Wood’s case was dismissed by a Miami judge in late October on jurisdictional grounds, because it was brought by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor rather than local prosecutors in Miami. The state is appealing this ruling.
Andrea Mercado was the executive director at Florida Rising, an independent political activist organisation focused on economic justice and racial justice in Florida. She said that the disproportionate targeting such potential voters was sending a message. “chilling message to all returning citizens who want to register to vote.” She claimed that many people were not clear on the requirements.
“You have to go to 67 counties’ websites and find their individual county processes to see if you have a fine or fee,” She said. “It’s a labyrinthian ordeal.”
In Florida, the Office of Election Crimes and Security began notifying counties of hundreds of voter who could be ineligible due to previous convictions. This was weeks before the Nov. 8. 8 election. State officials wrote to counties asking for verification of the information and to take steps to stop ineligible voters voting.
“We’ve heard stories about voters who are eligible to vote but have a criminal conviction in their past, and they are now scared to register and vote,” Michael Pernick is a voting rights attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It was called “it” “deeply concerning.”
A spokesman for the new office did not provide information related to any other actions it might have taken or investigations it might have underway related to this year’s primary and general elections.
Jason Miyares, Virginia Attorney-General, announced in September that he was creating his own Election Integrity Unit. “work to help restore confidence in our democratic process in the Commonwealth.”
The unit was formed in a situation where Republicans could not be bothered. swept the three statewide offices in 2021 elections, including Miyares’ defeat of a Democratic incumbent.
His spokeswoman, Victoria LaCivita, said in a written response to questions from The Associated Press that the office had received complaints connected to this month’s elections, but she could not comment on whether any investigations had resulted.
Additionally, “the EIU successfully got a demurrer and a motion to dismiss” An attempt to make the state abandon electronic voting machines for counting ballots.
Miyares’ office said he was not available for an interview, but in a letter to the editor in The Washington Post in October he stated there was no widespread fraud in Virginia or anywhere else during the 2020 election. He stated that his office had already been given jurisdiction over election-related matters but that he was restructuring the unit to better work with the community and allay any doubts regarding the fairness of the elections.
Smith of Campaign Legal Center stated that real problems exist in election security. These include protecting voters and voting equipment, as well poll workers and staff. He said that Republican steps could be taken to increase what they frequently refer to as “election security”. “election integrity” Many times, the efforts to combat voter fraud are not about one thing.
“It’s a myth that’s created so they can justify making it harder for people to vote,” He stated.
Thanawala reported from Atlanta, while Izaguirre was in Tallahassee, Florida. Jake Bleiberg (Associated Press writer) in Dallas; Bob Christie in Phoenix; Jonathan J. Cooper and Sarah Rankin at Richmond, Virginia; Paul Weber in Austin; Texas and contributed to this article.