Very soon, Florida could fall in the middle of one of the biggest cases of fraud associated with elections in recent history.
Local elections supervisors reveal they have been sent a large number of fraudulent petition forms in the support of a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to expand casino gambling in the state of Florida. According to reports, many of the forms include forged signatures of actual voters or include the names of deceased people, although they are supposed to reflect the opinion of state residents on the matter and their potential support for the measure.
The gambling giant Las Vegas Sands has been among the main sponsors of the petition drive. The gambling company’s late owner Sheldon Adelson was known as one of the largest contributors to the political campaign of Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as to the state Republican party. According to reports, almost $50 million were spent by Las Vegas Sands as part of its efforts to guarantee that an amendment that seeks to give the green light to card rooms in Florida to be reshaped into Las Vegas-style casinos would be placed on the November ballot.
A letter has already been addressed to the deputy attorney general of Florida to ask for assistance in the investigation of the elections supervisors’ claims. The letter, dated December 3rd, 2021, was sent from the Secretary of State’s office and claims they have received information from six election offices – Bradford, Brevard, Duval, Gulf, Maron and Pinellas counties – regarding fraudulent constitutional initiative petitions. According to the letter, copies of petition forms that were considered fraudulent were provided by the supervisor of the elections office. More than 1,200 petitions with similar issues have been sent to the state attorney’s office.
Reports of Suspected Fraudulent Casino Gambling Petitions Sent to Florida’s Attorney General
The number of suspicious or hard-to-verify petitions is so large that county elections supervisors and their offices find it really hard to sort through them. On the other hand, opponents of the proposed gambling expansion measure have alleged organizers of paying petition gatherers by the signature, rather than by the hours spent to gather the signatures.
Florida Voters in Charge has been appointed as the committee responsible for getting the proposed amendment on the ballot. The committee attorney Jim McKee, however, denied any claims that the body would submit fraudulent petitions on purpose to guarantee the success of its legislative efforts. Mr. McKee also noted that, under the provisions of the state law, the committee is required to submit every petition it receives, and it is not permitted to screen those petitions.
This is not the first time when the Republican Party and Governor DeSantis have faced election fraud claims, with the Governor also being under pressure to audit the 2020 state election. So far, DeSantis has resisted the calls to implement tougher penalties for some forms of election fraud. He has not commented on the latest suspected fraud, although his administration has been aware of the issue.
Hundreds of suspected fraudulent petitions submitted by various gatherers in Florida were mentioned in the 3-page letter of the Secretary of State. However, the letter did not specify which petitions are under suspicion of being fraudulent.