Absentee Ballot Fraud Could Derail Obama In 2012

(Luther Campbell)   Rampant absentee ballot fraud is destroying democracy in Miami and across the United States. County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa has proposed that anyone caught messing with absentee ballots will go to jail for 60 days and pay a $1,000 fine. Ten of her colleagues agree on the plan, which will be voted on this month. Sosa is also urging the state legislature to charge anyone who collects absentee ballots with a felony.

Why do we need such a plan? The Miami-Dade ethics commission just concluded that three North Miami Beach residents’ votes were stolen via the absentee ballot process.But more and more, absentee ballot brokers are the key to every election.

No sitting politician will reform the system, especially with the 2012 presidential election on the horizon. Absentee ballots in Miami-Dade may well elect the next president. There’s a county mayoral race next year too.

Consider this: In the most recent elections in Miami and Hialeah, absentee ballots either tied or outnumbered ballots cast on Election Day.On his way to victory, Miami city Commissioner Willy Gort collected 2,228 absentee ballots, nearly double the 1,245 he received on Election Day this past November 2. His colleague, Marc Sarnoff, had almost the same number of absentee ballots (2,289) as votes cast at the polls (2,322).

In the Hialeah mayoral race’s first round, absentee ballots outnumbered voters on Election Day by 2,023. In the runoff, winner Carlos Hernandez had 730 more absentee ballots than Election Day votes. His absentee ballots outpaced those of his opponent — longtime Hialeah king Raul Martinez — by 4,000.

The only way to get that many absentee ballots is by hiring brokers who charge candidates thousands of dollars to deliver bundles to the county elections department. The brokers are the ones responsible for dead people voting in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they go around strong-arming the elderly residents at assisted living facilities or fooling them with free breakfast at the local IHOP. The brokers also pay off preachers so they can set up shop inside houses of worship to sign up absentee voters.

I saw it firsthand when I ran in the recent county mayoral race. One guy, who I won’t name, guaranteed he could deliver thousands of absentee ballots in North Miami and North Miami Beach for $3,000. I took a pass. It showed on Election Day. I had more early and Election Day ballots than absentee votes.

I don’t believe our forefathers intended voting by absentee to be sold to the highest bidder. But that’s the way it is.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.


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