Thanks to the blog, Eye on Miami, and to a resident who came before the Miami-Dade Commission to tell us how she was a victim of voter fraud, I realized it was important to work on improving the existing absentee-ballot law. Last year, I sponsored a local ordinance adding penalties for the mass-collection of absentee ballots that was co-sponsored by commissioners Lynda Bell, Esteban Bovo, Jose Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, Jean Monestime, Dennis Moss and Xavier Suarez. This past election was the first election where this ordinance started being enforced with these penalties.
Realizing that more needed to be done and that state law does not allow us to impose felony penalties for local ordinances without state authorization, I urged the Florida Legislature to increase the offense level from a misdemeanor to a felony when an individual retrieves or returns more than one absentee ballot from a nonrelative. Additionally, next week I will present a resolution urging the Legislature to revert to the absentee-ballot rules in place prior to 1997, which limited absentee-ballot use to voters with a significant challenge in accessing a polling station.
In light of what has transpired during the last election, I hope that the Legislature will discuss and seriously consider this proposal. We need to go back to a time when voting absentee was a privilege. We must continue to have transparency in our voting system and, as members of government, we must enact laws that will protect the voting ability of those who cannot vote because of certain physical limitations.
It is our responsibility to preserve the most precious right of a democracy, the right to vote. Let’s review the policies we have in place and determine areas where improvements can be made. I believe in the people of this county and trust that they want to make a difference. I will continue to work on legislation that will preserve a citizen’s right to vote and restore integrity to the absentee-ballot process.
Rebeca Sosa, commissioner, Miami-Dade County, District 6, Miami