GOP's 'voter fraud' enforcement units 'have provided no indication of systemic problems': report
Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo via Saul Loeb for AFP)

On Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that "voter fraud" units created by Republican officials in several states to investigate election integrity have come up far short of finding evidence for the idea of any notable problems in elections.

"State-level law enforcement units ... created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems," reported Gary Fields, Anthony Izaguirre, and Sudhin Thanawala. Specifically, "Florida, Georgia and Virginia created special state-level units after the 2020 election, all pushed by Republican governors, attorneys general or legislatures."

"In Georgia, where Trump tried to pressure state officials to '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 would have to be significant enough to change or create doubt about the outcome of an election," said the report. "GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles said the agency has not initiated any investigations under the statute."

Meanwhile, "Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced he was forming his own Election Integrity Unit in September, saying it would 'work to help restore confidence in our democratic process in the Commonwealth' ... 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 said his office already had jurisdiction in election-related issues but that he was restructuring it into a unit to work more cooperatively with the election community to allay any doubts about the fairness of elections."

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Perhaps the most infamous of these efforts are in Florida, where Ron DeSantis created an investigative unit on election integrity and arrested 20 people for "fraud" even though local officials had told them they were eligible to vote. One man, Robert Lee Wood, was taken in by police after they surrounded his house, to his utter confusion, before a judge dismissed the charges.

"Andrea Mercado, executive director of Florida Rising, an independent political activist organization focused on economic and racial justice in the state, said the disproportionate targeting of such would-be voters was sending a 'chilling message to all returning citizens who want to register to vote,'" said the report. "She said her group found that many of them were confused about 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.'"