20 charged with voter fraud; DeSantis touts new office of election crimes and security

'The majority of these people illegally voted in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade,' governor says
DeSantis 08182022
Posted at 2:04 PM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 20:51:09-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state is charging 20 people with voter fraud.

DeSantis made the announcement at the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale just after 2 p.m.

"The majority of these people illegally voted in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade (counties)," DeSantis said. "They are disqualified from voting, because they've been convicted of either murder or sexual assault and they do not have the right to vote."

DeSantis was joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Department of Law Enforcement Acting Commissioner Mark Glass and Election Crimes and Security Office Director Peter Antonacci.

"We also have folks that are voting that are illegal aliens," DeSantis said.

The charges were announced following investigations by the Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"We will enforce the law and we take election security very seriously," Moody said.

WATCH BELOW: Ron DeSantis news conference

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces election fraud arrests during news conference at Broward County Courthouse

The Office of Election Crimes and Security launched on July 1 after DeSantis signed a bill to create a police force dedicated to pursuing voter fraud and other election crimes back in April.

DeSantis later appointed Antonacci as the first director of the newly created agency. He is tasked with leading the agency in investigating and pursuing election crimes. Prior to his new role, he served as Broward County's interim elections supervisor.

"It's been well-known for a long time that we've had a problem with ineligible voters casting ballots in elections in this state, and nothing has been done about it, until now," Antonacci said. "This is the day that we begin taking fraud seriously by assigning consequence to bad acts."

During the news conference, DeSantis also addressed rumors that he had come to Fort Lauderdale to call out Broward County's supervisor of elections. He said that was not the case.

"All of the supervisors are going to be informed that the 2020 election records are preserved," DeSantis said. "Everyone will be on notice."

The individuals who have been charged with voter fraud in Palm Beach County are Leo Grant, 55, of South Bay, Louis Villaran, 63, of Delray Beach, and Robert Simpson, 64, of Pahokee.

Voter fraud is a third-degree felony punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.