As detailed recently in the Miami Herald, the “sealed” search warrants served on three locations involving a congressional race were investigative steps to determine those responsible for falsified electronic absentee ballot requests in the primary and general elections of 2012.
While the initial data information supplied by the Miami-Dade elections department contained only foreign computer identifications (IP addresses), each subsequent listing contained more information than the previous one without ever making that point clear. The Herald’s recognition of this discrepancy helped provide two of the local IP addresses for two search warrants. Our election fraud task force helped develop the final IP address and search warrant for the previously unknown general election attempt.
Now comes the tedious work of reviewing all of the electronic data in order to file criminal charges. Despite a public desiring a quick decision, there is a distinct legal process that prosecutors must follow to develop a criminal case.
Every law enforcement expert recognizes that there are no easy public corruption investigations. The Miami Herald explained the problem clearly when it wrote on Feb. 16, 2003: “Public corruption cases can be much harder to investigate and prosecute than violent crimes. Without a body or smashed window, prosecutors first have to prove that a crime took place. Then they have to prove that someone did it. The legwork can involve digging through reams of technical or financial records and interviewing dozens of reluctant witnesses.”
The investigation of former state Rep. David Rivera is a case in point. Reams and reams of records had to be reviewed before recognizing that the statute of limitations had passed, prohibiting criminal charges, even before the investigation had begun.
We have already had successes with the election fraud task force I formed in August with over 50 police officers from seven law enforcement agencies. It has been investigating allegations of impropriety and fraud stemming from the 2012 primary and general elections and subsequent elections. We have interviewed candidates, elected officials, community activists, voters, and numerous citizens who have made allegations of some kind of impropriety.
The arrest of Deisy Cabrera last July for violation of the county absentee ballot ordinance and the felony charges of completing the ballot of another, along with the arrest of Sergio Robaina last August for similar ordinance and felony charges, clearly show that when sufficient evidence involving voting or election fraud existed, charges were filed. These cases are currently making their way through the courts, just as do tens of thousands of other felony cases.
The recent search warrants executed in the ongoing criminal investigation into computerized absentee ballot requests has already resulted in the resignation of the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia.
Arrests virtually stopped the ballot brokers ( boletería) in the November election — another testament to what we have already accomplished.
Our task force investigations are only one effort to attack voter fraud. I asked the Miami-Dade Grand Jury to review the issue. On Dec. 19, 2012, jurors urged a number of specific reforms. Our Miami-Dade County Commission and its chair, Rebeca Sosa, voted to support the implementation of these reforms during the 2013 legislative session. Now the commission is reviewing local reforms, which may help bring greater integrity to our absentee ballot process.