Leon Co. Supervisor of Elections praises appointee of election crimes office

Leon Co. Supervisor of Elections praises appointee of election crimes office
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County Supervisor of Elections said Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new appointee to lead Florida’s new election crimes office is a “good choice.”

“I’m very happy Pete has been named the head. Pete’s a by-the-book kind of guy,” said Mark Earley.

DeSantis appointed Pete Antonacci, who is now responsible for investigating all election crimes in Florida and overseeing the implementation of measures that will ensure Florida’s elections remain secure.

“Peter Antonacci has dedicated his career to serving the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am confident he will lead the Office of Election Crimes and Security with integrity and ensure that Florida’s elections are the most secure in the nation.”

Antonacci was the supervisor of elections in Broward County from 2018 through the 2020 election cycle.

Earley said certain election crimes, like voter fraud or forging a signature on a mail-in ballot, have low levels of occurrence. Nonetheless, his office did turn over fraud cases to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who he said investigated the cases “very thoroughly.”

“We weren’t able to get a prosecution, I don’t necessarily think that was because of lack of resources,” Earley said. “It’s difficult for people who are approached in a parking lot with a petition to be able to point out who that person is much later.”

Those matters will now go to the Office of Election Crimes and Security to oversee.

Earley said there were concerns election supervisors brought forward to lawmakers about the office, like its size, funding and functioning as independent and not within a “checks and balances” system.

“During the legislative session, our supervisors of elections, our associations lobbied to downsize that and make it more right-sized,” Earley said. “Maybe divert some of those resources that were maybe being allocated over to the division of elections because they needed more resources to get their jobs done.”

However, Earley did downplay his concerns about allegations potentially being independently investigated by the Election Crimes and Security Office due to his personal experience with Antonacci.

“I anticipate if we present something to him he will take it very seriously,” Earley said. “(It’s good) having somebody very dedicated and hopefully some of his investigators will be highly trained in election law themselves.”

Earley said Leon County is on the “cutting edge” when it comes to election security and said initiatives put forward by his office have been adopted statewide.

“I think it’s a never-ending challenge, you never know what the next threat is going to be,” Earley said.

Earley said he’s interested to see “the right balance being struck” in terms of investigations and the handling of the office but said it’s in “good hands” with Antonacci at the helm.

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