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Then-Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) gestures as he speaks next to President Donald Trump during a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.

Then-Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) gestures as he speaks next to President Donald Trump during a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

DeSantis, Perdue Push GOP Election Police Force

"A reminder," offered one political observer, "the idea that there was enough fraud in the 2020 election to warrant this kind of proposal is a massive lie."

Andrea Germanos

Former Republican Senator, gubernatorial candidate, and "big lie" promoter David Perdue said Thursday that he wants a special election police force for Georgia.

His proposal comes on the heels of a similar plan from Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for a police force authorized to investigate and arrest alleged election law-violators.

"First Florida, now Georgia," tweeted CNN political correspondent and host Abby Phillip. "A reminder, the idea that there was enough fraud in the 2020 election to warrant this kind of proposal is a massive lie."

Perdue, after a campaign heavily backed by Wall Street and amid criticism over suspiciously timed stock transactions, was defeated last January in his bid for Senate reelection by Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia's runoff race.

Last month, Perdue announced his bid to be Georgia's governor in a challenge to incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and in order "to stop Stacey Abrams" from taking the office. His campaign was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Both before and after announcing his run for governor, Perdue has repeatedly pushed debunked claims that Georgia's 2020 election result was fraudulent

In a statement Thursday, Perdue said he wants "an Election Law Enforcement Division in Georgia to enforce election laws, investigate election crimes and fraud, and arrest those who commit these offenses." Results should also be independently audited before being certified, he said.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday:

Georgia already has election investigators who looked into hundreds of allegations, debunking almost all of them. Their findings refuted claims of counterfeit ballots, ballot stuffing, dead voters and mismatched signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.

For his part, DeSantis talked about his plan for "an election integrity unit whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida's election laws" in his State of the State address earlier this month.

According to the Washington Post:

The proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security would be part of the Department of State, which answers to the governor. DeSantis is asking the GOP-controlled legislature to allocate nearly $6 million to hire 52 people to "investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation" of election laws. They would be stationed at unspecified "field offices throughout the state" and act on tips from "government officials or any other person."

The Post quoted Jonathan Diaz, a voting rights lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, who said, "My number one concern is that this is going to be used as a tool to harass or intimidate civic-engagement organizations and voters."

Responding to news of DeSantis's push, Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, also expressed concern.

"A handpicked police force, reporting to the governor, intimidating election officials and maybe voters: what could go wrong?" he wrote.

Progressive radio host and book author Thom Hartmann, in a blog post Wednesday, pointed to reports last year of a Texas GOP official discussing plans to "build an army" of poll watchers and framed that effort as well as DeSantis's plan as "part of a much larger Republican campaign of widespread and systemic election fraud that the party has been running since the days of Barry Goldwater."

"Every election year we hear about a handful of people busted for trying to vote twice or in the name of a deceased relative," he wrote, "but it's so rare it has absolutely no impact on elections and hasn’t at any point in my 70 years on this planet."

"Voter fraud, in other words, isn't real," Hartmann continued. "But election fraud is very much real and alive, and that's exactly what DeSantis and the Texas GOP are proposing, right out in the open."

The developments out of Georgia and Florida come as the U.S. Senate on Wednesday—thanks to the Republican caucus and right-wing Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—failed to pass a proposed change to the Senate filibuster, thus torpedoing Democrats' national voting rights legislation.

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