State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the polls closed.
Critics suggested that the new units were more about politics than rooting out abuses. At the local level, most election-related fraud cases are investigated.
Republican governors pushed for the creation of special state-level units in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
The senior vice president of the Campaign Legal Center said that he was not aware of any significant detection of fraud on Election Day. The idea of voter fraud is overstated. It doesn't change the outcome of the election, it's a felony and you have a high chance of being caught. It is a rare phenomenon.
Because of the lies surrounding the 2020 presidential election spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies, the Republican Party has lost trust in elections. 45% of Republicans had no confidence that votes would be counted accurately in the election.
There was no widespread fraud in Georgia or the other battleground states where Trump claimed he lost, and so far there is no evidence of that in this year's elections. Most states have a smooth certification of the results.
A new law in Georgia gives the state's top law enforcement agency, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, authority to initiate investigations of alleged election fraud without a request from election officials. It would have to be significant enough to change the outcome of the election.
The agency hasn't started any investigations under the statute, according to the spokesman. She said in an email that the agency is assisting the secretary of state's office in an investigation of a breach of voting equipment in Coffee County in 2021.
Some high-profile supporters of the former president, as well as local officials in a county that voted for Trump by 40 percentage points, were involved in the breach.
The lack of investigations corroborates the criticism that the law was unnecessary, according to state Rep. Jasmine Clark. She said that people who want to serve as poll workers or take on some other role in the voting process could be frightened by the prospect of a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
There was no real problem to be solved. This was a solution looking for a problem and that is not how we should legislate.
Florida has been the most visible state in creating its Office of Election Crimes and Security and keeping its pledge to combat election fraud.
The office is part of the state. State law enforcement is given the task of pursuing violations.
When the state had more than 14 million voters, the election unit arrested 20 people for voting illegally. It was the first major election since a state constitutional amendment restored voting rights for felons.
According to court records, the 20 people were able to register to vote even though they had felony convictions. There is a language in the voter registration forms that requires applicants to swear that they are not a felon or have had their rights restored. Past convictions for murder and sexual assault are not asked about on the forms.
One of the people charged, 56-year-old Robert Lee Wood, had his home surrounded by law enforcement officers who knocked on his door and arrested him. He was in jail for a couple of days. Wood didn't think he was breaking the law because he was able to register to vote. The law enforcement response was called over the top by Davis.
The case was dismissed by a Miami judge because it was brought by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor. The ruling is being appealed.
The disproportionate targeting of would-be voters was sending a chilling message to all returning citizens who want to register to vote. Many of them were confused about the requirements according to her.
If you want to find out if you have a fee or fine, you have to look at the websites of 67 counties. It's a maze.
The Office of Election Crimes and Security began notifying Florida counties of potential ineligible voters weeks before the election. In letters to the counties, state officials asked that election officials take action to prevent ineligible voters from voting.
Michael Pernick is a voting rights attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He said it was troubling.
The spokesman for the new office didn't give any information about any other actions it might have taken or investigations it might have begun related to this year's primary and general elections
The Election Integrity Unit will be formed by the Virginia Attorney General in September.
The formation of the unit came in a state where Republicans won three statewide offices in the same year.
Victoria LaCivita, his spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that the office had received complaints related to this month's elections, but she could not comment on whether any investigations had resulted.
The EIU tried to force the state to abandon its use of electronic voting machines in order to conduct a statewide hand count.
Miyares' office said he was not available for an interview, but in a letter to the editor in The Washington Post in October he stated there was no widespread fraud in Virginia or anywhere else. He said his office already had jurisdiction in election related issues but that he was restructuring it into a unit to work with the election community to allay any doubts about the fairness of elections.
Smith said there are real issues relating to election security, including protecting voters, poll workers and elections staff. He said that Republican steps to boost election integrity to combat voter fraud are not always about that.
They can justify making it harder for people to vote by creating a myth.
You can follow the AP's coverage of the mid-term elections.
Izaguirre came from Florida and Thanawala came from Atlanta. The Associated Press writers contributed to this report were Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Bob Christie in Phoenix, Sarah Rankin in Virginia, and Paul Weber in Texas.