ELECTION

Dead woman receives absentee ballot for Miami Lakes referendum

 

eflor@ElNuevoHerald.com

Belén Alvarez Vásquez died nearly three years ago, but an absentee ballot was still mailed to her by the Miami-Dade Election Department for a Miami Lakes referendum that took place Tuesday.

“I don’t understand how they could have sent her an absentee ballot when she is dead,” said Ada Morales, Alvarez’s daughter. “The first thing I thought when I saw the ballot was that there was some kind of fraud.”

The Election Department’s spokeswoman, Carolina López, told El Nuevo Herald that the last time that Alvarez had participated in an election was in the August 2010 primaries, but that “up to now no notification of her death had been received from the state or the family.”

Morales said that she reported the death of her mother to the Social Security Administration. But a ballot was sent to Alvarez in early June — despite the Florida Election Department’s publicized update of electoral rolls.

Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi said that his administration was not involved in election operations and that any question about the list of voters was totally the responsibility of the Miami-Dade Elections Department.

“As mayor I expect and demand that the Election Department be extremely careful to make sure that this type of error does not occur in our city,” Pizzi said. “The elections in Miami Lakes are entirely under the direction of the county Elections Department, for which we pay them.”

Pizzi said that the Miami Lakes referendum was conducted strictly through mailed absentee ballots, which had to be mailed back by Tuesday. The referendum was on whether council members should be elected at large or from districts.

Morales said that her mother died of cardiac arrest at 74 after a long illness. She recalled that Alvarez used to go to the polls to vote in person, rather than vote absentee. “All members of my family have always liked to go to voting polls and deposit our votes in person,” Morales said. “We feel more confident in doing it that way, which is why it was very strange to see the ballot arrive in the mail. And, worst of all, it was a ballot for my mother who is dead. I couldn’t believe it.”

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