FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.  — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday in Broward County that 20 people across the state have been arrested and charged with election fraud.

"This is a third-degree felony in the state of Florida," DeSantis said, adding it was punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

DeSantis said the people illegally voted in Broward, Miami-Dade and other parts of the state.

He added that investigations are ongoing that may lead to more arrests.

Florida had what was considered one of the smoothest elections in the country in 2020, which is why there was skepticism by some that the state needed to create a police force dedicated to pursuing election fraud.

But DeSantis said that the arrests confirm why that agency is needed.

The people who illegally voted were felons who were convicted of murder or sexual assault, the governor said.

Under Amendment 4 passed in 2018 that allowed felons to regain their right to vote, there were exceptions made for those convicted of murder or sexual assault.

Attorney General Ashley Moody and new Secretary of State Cord Byrd were in attendance at the announcement.


Fried, running for governor against Charlie Crist in the Aug. 24 primary, said the governor was trying to intimidate voters.

"Ron DeSantis went to Broward County today for one reason and one reason only — to intimidate voters and suppress turnout in the most Democratic counties in Florida," she said. "My message is this, if you're eligible and registered, vote. It's your right!  Everybody wants elections to be secure, but Ron DeSantis — who has never refuted Donald Trump's Big Lie— is the last person we can trust with "election police." As governor, I will disband this force and return jurisdiction back to local authorities. That's who needs to handle fraud, not Ron."