Republicans in the South are turning to a familiar authority in their efforts to clamp down on imagined voter fraud: the police.
George gubernatorial candidate David Perdue on Thursday called for the creation of “Election Law Enforcement Division” that would “be charged with enforcing election laws, investigating election crimes and fraud, and arresting those who commit these offenses,” according to CNN. The plan would also require elections to be independently audited before they are certified. Governor Brian Kemp drew the wrath of former President Trump for certifying the state’s 2020 election results, as he was required to do by law.
“Leave it to a 20-year career politician like Kemp to sit on his hands when we needed him most,” Perdue said Thursday. “He failed us, and Georgians lost confidence that their vote would count.”
Perdue’s plan echoes a proposal from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to create a special 52-member law enforcement office to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of voting laws. “To ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the rule of law, I propose an election integrity unit whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida’s election laws,” DeSantis said last week. “This will facilitate the faithful enforcement of election laws and will provide Floridians with the confidence that their vote will matter.”
Unlike DeSantis, Perdue is not currently in a position to facilitate the formation of an election law enforcement division. Ousted from his Senate seat by Democrat Jon Ossoff in last year’s runoff election, the Republican is challenging Kemp from the right, having nabbed a coveted endorsement from Trump. Like the one-term president, Perdue has used false claims about the election to his political advantage. Last month, he filed a lawsuit alleging that thousands of fraudulent ballots were counted in Fulton County (they weren’t).
He’s also said that, unlike Kemp, he would not have certified the 2020 election results. “I’ll do what Brian Kemp has failed to do,” Perdue said in a statement. “I’ll make Georgia elections the safest and securest in the country.”
The 2020 election was the safest and most secure in history, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the Peach State were embarrassingly false. Florida’s election drew less right-wing criticism at the time, as not even the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit contesting its results, as he did in Texas, another state he won comfortably. DeSantis has said that the state’s voting system is a model for the country.
DeSantis still came to the conclusion, however, that more police would somehow make the voting process even better — a point of irony, since Florida is among several GOP-led states, including Georgia, that have taken measure to make it harder to vote after massive turnout in the 2020 election turned some key states blue.
As one state representative put it, the governor’s plan is “a solution looking for a problem.”