So here we are in 2012 and Fernandez Rundle’s office and Miami-Dade investigators nabbed one Deisy Cabrera for allegedly picking up lots more ballots and even signing one for a sick, elderly woman who doesn’t even know what’s happening in her room at the nursing home.
Flashback to Feb. 2, 1998, and the grand jury’s report that found wrongdoing in absentee ballot collections in Miami and Miami Beach — this after a previous absentee-ballot debacle in Hialeah in 1993.
“No municipality is safe and no election is sacrosanct while such voting corruption is seen as a viable tool,” the grand jury report noted. “But until strong steps are taken to make voting fraud a dangerous undertaking for any political candidate or political machine, we remain concerned that voting fraud will be assumed to be a natural part of today’s political process.”
Among the grand jury’s recommendations: have Miami-Dade County pay for pre-paid postage for absentee ballots, the kind that only gets charged by the post office if it’s used. “Such an action would serve to reduce the dependence of an absentee voter on a third party in order to obtain a stamp to mail the ballot,” the report stated. “This is a problem that is particularly prevalent among our elderly and infirm voter population as it allows unscrupulous individuals an avenue to gain access to these voters.”
Fernandez Rundle, who recused herself from the Cabrera case because one of her campaign workers may have been seen in the boletera’s company, is caught in the middle of a fraud not of her making. She warned us then, and it came to pass — and unfairly compromised her own re-election bid in the process.
Whatever happens on Tuesday, Election Day, our state attorney isn’t dropping the absentee ballot issue. The next grand jury begins in three weeks, and she told me last week she’s already asked them to dig into the absentee ballot shenanigans. Fourteen years after the last report, we’re still dealing with ballot fraud.
Still, there’s one clean fix. Make the boleteras and boleteros unnecessary by simply including free postage on the return envelope of an absentee ballot. The public cost is worth it for saving what’s left of our democracy.