Absentee votes in Florida, voters not required to participate

A three part series highlights ongoing, organized, absentee vote fraud in Florida.  The [low] highlight is the video and story in the first part, of a disabled former county worker who tried her darnedest to vote but in the end was denied. <part1> <part2> <part3>

Could Mrs. Thompson have forgotten that she received and returned the ballot? She said no numerous times. As a former County worker, she was sharp as a tack mentally. We compared the ballot envelope signature to a fresh signature sample done by Judith at Elections as well as to the signature on her State identification card. The signature on the absentee ballot envelope when compared with Mrs. Thompson’s valid signature wasn’t even close. There were three of us looking at the signatures. The envelope signature was very tight compared to her looser hand and the capital letters were written differently. I asked Elections how they verify absentee ballot signature, they said:

The signatures are verified electronically. If the signature on the certificate requires further review, then the certificate is reviewed manually. – Michelle G. McClain, Assistant Deputy Supervisor, Voter Services

It is interesting to note that when Miami Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin reviewed petition signatures he did them ALL manually and had a handwriting expert on hand. Maybe the Elections Department’s program is not working as it allowed Mrs. Thompson to be disenfranchised by a forged signature. I got a few different stories about how signatures are verified at the Election’s Department. I even called the software company that supplies Elections and they were very defensive. I asked them about statistics on accuracy, They never called  back. Joe Centorino at the State’s Attorney’s office (now head of County’s Ethics), at my urging, instituted an investigation into Mrs. Thompson’s lost vote.  He said it was difficult proving these cases. His biggest complaint was that there is no penalty for people from campaigns picking up absentee ballots from voters even though it is illegal. He needs to have a penalty to impose on the illegal activity in order to make arrests….

We had spent some time at the Miami–Dade County Department of Elections looking at returned absentee ballot envelopes and ballots from the preceding election. What we reviewed were the now empty ballot-filled envelopes which have the voter’s address information and signature. The actual ballots do not have any identifying numbers, names or marks on them. We viewed those separately. We were not allowed to touch or copy the envelopes or ballots. They were held up in front of our faces.

What we saw during our time at Elections amazed us. It actually prepared us for Ms. Thompson’s experience. What we learned through interviews before Ms. Thompson’s trek to Elections was not surprising.

During our time at Elections, we saw ballots that were filled in strangely.

Among the oddities were numerous ballots that had only 2 candidates (the same two) filled in out of the scads of candidates in the November election. There were ballots with pencil circles around the “correct” bubble with dark ink colored in them. It may not sound like much, but when you are sitting there looking at page after page, you soon realize that some things you see are not quite right.

When it came to the ballot certification envelopes, our review offered up many questions and we oftentimes received answers from the department about the absentee process that didn’t make sense.

On the envelopes we noted some strange things like unusual numbers of voters in a certain area missing required printed signatures at the envelope top while other areas had all of the required printing on them. There were envelopes with signatures in the wrong place allowing the envelopes to be opened or closed; there were different hand writing styles on the top, bottom and front of the envelope; there were envelopes with NO signature (they were counted, now I want you to try that at a poll) and other things that just seemed weird.

In some cases we asked to compare the envelope signatures with the one on file and we were denied the opportunity. We asked questions about the envelope review process. The response really didn’t calm our discomfort with what we saw. After this visit, I am still not convinced that the envelopes are truly looked at in a comprehensive matter – having found one vote counted with NO signature…

Miami Herald’s Columnist Fred Grimm said:

“In 1993, after the Hialeah city election was tainted by illicit commerce in absentee votes, a Miami Herald editorial warned, “Florida’s absentee ballot guidelines are among the nation’s most lenient. Indeed, the laws encourage ‘ballot brokers’ who exchange blocs of absentee ballots for money. The Legislature needs to adopt tighter regulations for obtaining absentee ballots. The Florida Senate wisely voted down a bill this year that would have made the code even looser.”

 That bit of wisdom did not hold. In 2004, the Legislature relaxed absentee ballot rules. And ballot brokers are still deciding elections. (The Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections mailed out 126,372 absentee ballots for Tuesday’s county mayoral election.) If the rules were any looser, my dog Jasper could vote absentee.”…

A View from an Insider:

There are cases where they would be “using” the absentee ballots mailed to the typical Cuban seniors — those who are handicapped by their physical problems, and many who are not. These people don’t speak English; most live either in nursing homes or in private nursing homes [family homes that take up to 8 seniors], so the people who are the managers at these places are in control of the votes/people.

These seniors don’t know how to vote, so they trust their “handlers” to do this for them. Let’s say that there’s a private home that houses 8 seniors; the person who manages the place will sell their ballots to the people who are gathering votes for the candidates. This manager can collect anywhere from $50 to $100 per ballot. It all depends on how badly the campaigns need the vote and, most all, how much money is available for negotiating.

Why on earth do you think that the costs of running a political campaign in Miami-Dade get higher with every new election? Do you really believe that they need the money for radio and TV?

In the case of the dining rooms [“comedores”], I understand that it is more of a communal process. As the ballots arrive, the “handlers” sit with the seniors and they tell them that they are going to help complete the voting process, so it is easier for them. These seniors have no idea how to vote, and even the presence of a ballot scares them to death.

In the cases of the hundreds of Cuban clinics in Miami-Dade – that are no more than Medicare mills – the owners, or managers, ask the seniors if they want to “negotiate” their ballots, and they offer them money. Naturally, a Medicare mill is there to help the senior make money, one way or the other. And then the seniors request their ballots by phone, and even if they would need a medical excuse, stating that they “can’t go to the polls,” remember who’s helping them to do the transaction, THEIR CLINIC…

Here is a last word from the Miami Herald:

“Still, interviews with at least a half-dozen people involved in Greater Miami elections paint a picture of a flourishing cottage industry in which ballot brokers promise to deliver blocks of absentee votes for a price. To be sure, many strategies for targeting absentee voters are legal, but the practice becomes dubious when voters are pressured with insistent phone calls and home visits. And the efforts can cross the line into fraud, when ballots that are collected under the guise of helping a voter are altered or destroyed.”

How much safer/riskier is Connecticut? We are not so sure. People here have been prosecuted. We are certain, that our President and the make-up of our Congress is dependent on errors and fraud in Florida and in every other state.

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