Crime

He forged signatures and registered a noncitizen to vote, authorities say

Law enforcement charged a Miami man on Thursday with registering a non-citizen to vote during the presidential election in November. No vote was cast.
Law enforcement charged a Miami man on Thursday with registering a non-citizen to vote during the presidential election in November. No vote was cast.

For $15 an hour, Manuel Alejandro Angulo Barrientos was supposed to visit busy public areas like shopping malls and grocery stores and register people to vote for the upcoming presidential election.

But, prosecutors say, Barrientos took the lazy route, often calling people from home, finding out personal information on Facebook and forging their signatures.

On Thursday, Barrientos, 29, was jailed and charged with one count of falsely registering a noncitizen to vote, a third-degree felony. His bond was set at $5,000. He remained in jail late Thursday afternoon.

The bust came after the nonpartisan voter outreach group he worked for contacted the elections department, which reached out to law enforcement.

“Our election process is too important for our democracy to allow anyone to tamper with it,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

State attorney spokesman Ed Griffith said the man Barrientos registered to vote never cast a ballot and that there is no indication that any other noncitizens were registered without their knowledge.

Still, the arrest stirred memories of other alleged election improprieties in South Florida, especially two arrests last October when two women were charged with voter fraud in Miami-Dade.

Temporary elections worker Gladys Coego, 74, was accused of illegally marking ballots for Raquel Regalado in the county mayoral election she lost to Carlos Gimenez. Tamika Curgil, 33, was charged with filling out five forms without the consent of voters on behalf of United for Care, the campaign that fought to legalize marijuana in Florida.

And although there is little evidence of any type of widespread voter fraud, President Donald Trump, nonetheless, made it an issue after his election victory. Several times, including once to Fox news commentator Bill O’Reilly, Trump claimed that illegal immigrants and dead people voted in the 2016 presidential election.

He also argued that it was common for people living in Massachusetts to be bused into New Hampshire to vote, although the attorney general of New Hampshire has said there is no evidence behind this claim.

Barrientos’s alleged scheme was much simpler than that, according to his arrest warrant. He worked as a canvasser for GRSG Co. from Sept. 16 until he was fired on Sept. 28.

According to his arrest warrant, Barrientos contacted Yadira Sanchez, the wife of Nelson Alles, in early September. Sanchez told investigators that Barrientos said if she offered personal information over the phone he would sign for her and register her. When Barrientos asked about her husband, Sanchez said he wasn’t a citizen.

“Mrs. Sanchez testified that Angulo [Barrientos] instructed her that if anyone were to ask her about her application, she should tell them she did not know Angulo [Barrientos], but that she had encountered him at a grocery store on 107th Avenue and Flagler Street,” Miami police Officer Francisco Castillo wrote in the arrest affidavit.

At some point prior to Sept. 28, Barrientos registered Alles to vote, even though the canvasser was not given permission and Alles was not a U.S. citizen. Barrientos told investigators he found his birth date on Facebook.

“The guy says I never registered. I’m not even a citizen,” Griffith said.

Barrientos was caught soon after, when GRSG tried to verify that Alles had been properly registered and contacted him.

So GRSG contacted Miami-Dade elections officials, who notified the state attorney’s office and police.

According to Barrientos’ arrest warrant, he admitted to the misdeeds and also said he signed 14 others to register to vote.

“Angulo [Barrientos] further admitted that he would routinely lie on his log sheets about where he met the people he claimed to register,” the warrant says.

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