Legislative Update: Florida Considering Criminal Penalties for Condominium Election Fraud
The Florida Legislature is looking to combat condominium election and voting fraud during the 2020 Regular Legislative Session. In 2017, a Miami-Dade County Grand Jury found that election fraud was a major problem for condominium residents and recommended criminal penalties for those engaging in fraudulent activity. This year, Florida lawmakers appear to be taking the Grand Jury’s advice.
Separate bills filed in Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives would make it a third-degree felony to:
- willfully and falsely swear or affirm any oath or affirmation in connection with voting or elections, or willfully procure another person to do so;
- aid, perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any fraud in connection with the casting of votes;
- fraudulently change or attempt to change a ballot, ballot envelope, vote or voting certificate to prevent an elector from voting as intended;
- directly or indirectly use bribery, menace, threat or any other corruption to attempt to influence, deceive or deter any elector in voting;
- directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to buy votes or to corruptly influence voting (This does not apply to food served at election rallies or meetings or election advertising items of nominal value, including a campaign message designed to be worn by a person.); or
- directly or indirectly use or threaten to use force, violence or other tactics of coercion or intimidation to induce, compel or dissuade voters.
It would also be third-degree felony to:
- knowingly aid, abet or advise a person in the commission of election fraud;
- agree or conspire with another person to commit election fraud; or
- knowingly aid another to avoid or escape detection, arrest, trial or punishment for election fraud.
Florida’s 60-day Regular Legislative Session ends March 13, 2020. Until then, these bills may be amended or rejected. Whether they ultimately pass into law remains to be seen.
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