Absentee vote fraud is undermining our elections
While campaigning at a senior citizen residence facility in Sweetwater during my recent race for state representative, several elderly voters mentioned that a person closely related to an important city official “handled” their absentee voting in that center. Some even said this person “voted for them.”
One angry voter pulled me aside discreetly to warn me that this politically connected person actually got the mailbox keys from the residents to access their ballots, and begged me to do something about it. Unfortunately, the person they identified was also openly working on behalf of my opponent.
Sadly, I wasn’t surprised. I had been hearing of these absentee irregularities for years. Like many others in our community, I knew that certain well known boleteras controlled blocs of absentee votes in Miami-Dade County mostly from elderly voters either too senile or too indifferent to care. And that these boleteras are available for hire.
A dramatic increase in absentee voting in recent years means that absentee ballots are increasingly, and disproportionately, deciding our elections. But in many cases absentee voting patterns are so far out of sync with the rest of the county’s voting that it is obvious that something is seriously wrong. We have even reportedly seen cases of absentee ballots found in a local mayor’s car.
In our case our campaign did what it could to counter these potential absentee irregularities. We told all potential absentee voters we met not to turn over their absentee ballots to anyone, and to mail the ballots themselves. We also made automated calls to all potential absentee voters warning them about absentee vote fraud.
Fortunately, a short time later a private investigation into absentee fraud in the city of Hialeah exposed a major absentee ballot fraud “machine” in the “City of Progress.” Soon thereafter arrests were made, including the former mayor’s uncle. Our campaign hoped the big media flurry and arrests would dampen any similar illegal activity in our race.
When the election concluded however, the results showed that nearly 700 absentee votes, primarily and disproportionately cast in Miami-Dade, essentially decided my election. While my opponent and I were more evenly matched in early voting and election day voting, virtually tied in Broward County, and I actually won solidly in Collier County — absentee votes in Miami-Dade, especially in the city of Sweetwater, were often inexplicably cast 2 to 1, or more, against me.
After evaluating the election results data, we asked the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office to initiate an investigation into potential absentee voting irregularities in our race.
Unfortunately, I am not the only candidate with stories like this. Several other candidates in this election cycle have similar anecdotal and statistical evidence pointing to widespread absentee irregularities, and potentially voter fraud, in their races.
Based on the precedent set in 1997 when a lawsuit against absentee vote fraud successfully overturned that year’s Miami mayoral election, some of these candidates and I are now considering similar lawsuits challenging the absentee vote across Miami-Dade County.
Absentee ballot fraud is undermining the integrity of our elections. My parents fled communist Cuba because their right to vote was eliminated. As an officer in the United States Marine Corps I defended our country and our political system. Our vote should be sacred.
We can no longer turn a blind eye to this electoral cancer. Absentee vote fraud must stop.
Paul Crespo, a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain, was a Republican candidate for state representative.