Florida Republicans' Ballot Fraud 2012

Florida Republicans' Ballot Fraud 2012

The air outside Isidro Gonzalez's first-floor apartment reeks of Vicks VapoRub. The 84-year-old Cuban-American adjusts his hearing aid as he slowly shuffles through a low-rise apartment building's foyer and out to a shaded yard where a pair of frail abuelitas lean on walkers.

This Hialeah public housing isn't just where octogenarians like Gonzalez go to while away their twilight years, though.

It's also where Miami-Dade democracy goes to die.

Sergio Robaina was arrested July 26 for picking up 40 absentee ballots that didn't belong to him.
Miami-Dade Department of Corrections
Sergio Robaina was arrested July 26 for picking up 40 absentee ballots that didn't belong to him.
Accused boletera Deisy Penton de Cabrera.
Miami-Dade Department of Corrections
Accused boletera Deisy Penton de Cabrera.

Two months ago, this city-owned complex became the epicenter of Dade voter fraud after a boletero — or ballot collector — named Sergio "El Tío" Robaina was busted with 40 ballots belonging to infirm, easily manipulated residents. For decades, critics have accused Hialeah politicos such as Julio Robaina, Sergio's nephew, of clinging to power by bullying, bribing, and pressuring elderly voters at nursing homes to give up their absentee ballots. Indeed, residents here all know El Tío like a relative.

"I've known him ever since his nephew ran for mayor in 2005," says Gonzalez, who gave his own ballot to Robaina in August. "He's a very nice man."

The Miami Herald and Spanish-language television's coverage of the scandal — which included the arrest of another Hialeah ballot collector days earlier — has made it easy to imagine the problem is limited to immigrant-heavy neighborhoods like this one, where campaigns can easily scam or pay off poor seniors who don't speak English.

Wrong. Absentee-ballot fraud is a malignant tumor growing way beyond Hialeah, tainting races much bigger than obscure local contests. New Times has found credible allegations of fraud from Sweetwater to North Miami to North Florida and proof that politicians ranging from county Commissioner Esteban Bovo to Gov. Rick Scott have paid thousands to boleteros to deliver their wins.

It's not difficult to understand why the problem is so odious. For more than two decades, Tallahassee lawmakers have worked overtime to ensure that Florida's absentee-ballot system is among the country's easiest to scam. Worse, they've loosened rules just as absentee voting has exploded — about a third of all votes in August's primaries came via absentees. November's presidential election will likely set a new absentee record in Florida.

"Absentee-ballot voting should be called free-for-all voting," says Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a voting rights attorney who formerly headed the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.

The systematic fraud is mostly a one-sided game, though. In every big race, from George W. Bush's earth-shaking 2000 win to Scott's gubernatorial victory, the GOP has crushed Democrats in absentee votes. Scores of local Republicans, meanwhile, have been tied to boleteros, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, property appraiser-elect Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and state Reps. Manny Diaz Jr., Eddy Gonzalez, and Jose Oliva.

Come November, when a wire-tight presidential race could come down to Florida's crucial electoral votes, the state's GOP machine will do everything possible to make sure Mitt Romney has a chance — legit or not.

"We have a long history of one party controlling all levels of government, especially elections," says Bob Jarvis, an ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University's law school. "Now we are seeing Republicans doing the same thing that Southern Democrats did during the Jim Crow era to make sure they stay in power."

From purposely weak laws to partisan shenanigans to toothless prosecutors, here are five big reasons why absentee-ballot fraud will spoil November's election for President Obama.


History Repeats Itself

At first, the idea was simple: Voters who can't make it to the polls on Election Day should still have a chance to cast their ballots. As that noble goal has ballooned to include pretty much anyone who can vote, though, frauds have noticed it's the perfect tool for stealing elections.

It's so convenient, in fact, that this summer's boletero scandal is the third major absentee-fraud boondoggle to rock Miami-Dade in the past two decades. Twice before, a major election was overturned, reformers huffed and puffed, and absolutely nothing changed.

"It seems we keep being haunted by our past," Jarvis says.

In Florida, absentee ballots first appeared during the Civil War, while the state was fighting for the Confederacy. For decades, the option was almost entirely confined to military personnel, Jarvis says. Then, in the 1960s — as graying retirees began flocking to the Sunshine State — lawmakers allowed elderly residents to vote from their living rooms. By 2002, any registered voter could receive an absentee ballot. And just about anyone could pick up the ballots on behalf of voters and deliver them to elections offices.

It didn't take long to see that the system was almost tailor-made for fraud.

In 1993, Miami-Dade's first brush with shenanigans came — surprise, surprise — in Hialeah when a state representative named Nilo Juri lost a runoff in the mayoral race by 273 votes to the city's longtime overlord, Raul Martinez.

Juri immediately smelled a rat. Despite beating Martinez at the polls, he was crushed two-to-one among the 1,274 absentee ballots. He quickly filed a lawsuit.

During the trial, Juri's experts found hundreds of ballots that had been forged with tracing paper and erasable ink. Dozens of Martinez campaign workers pleaded the Fifth. A witness in the criminal probe described a boiler-room operation where Martinez campaign members cranked out faked absentee ballots like sweatshop sneakers.

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18 comments
Kantzler
Kantzler

Don't fear the government. Fear the persistently corrupt Republicans, who cheat at every corner to grab and abuse power, from gerrymandering to voter restrictions to election fraud.

democracyisindanger
democracyisindanger

Right now, the wife of a Dania Beach city commission candidate has "volunteers"  picking up absentee ballots in Dania Beach.  I guess she did not read your story.

hhoskinsjr
hhoskinsjr

I live in Miami and I have known for a long time that this has been going on. Now about Florida or even Miami being mostly Republican that is not true. Only about 10-20% of our population are Republicans. The other 80-90% are either Independent, like myself, democrat, or other party affiliation. The problem that we have with the voting here is that we have more crooked politicians that will commit any type of fraud to win an election. They try to silence the people because they know that they don't have a chance in hell playing by the rules so they cheat. Yes, you do have to show your identification when you come to cast your ballot. It's something that's needed because it insures that no one can vote more than once and it reduces fraud. Absentee ballots leave more room for voter fraud by either party because as you can see from the article that it's easy for absentee ballots to be stolen. I have an absentee ballot and it was too easy to get. I admit that I'm a service connected disabled veteran but the fact of the matter is that it was too easy for me to get an absentee ballot. They didn't even ask me questions that should be required to get an absentee ballot. Also, living here you have to watch your mailboxes in receiving snail mail because people WILL steal mail out of your box. You have a majority of fraud goes on down here so I am not surprised at all

laroca55
laroca55

the problem is that in town majority is Republican , the only way they have to control power is to do what they long learn in the Cuba of the 50's and before.... they doit at best.

that's a shame for a lot of other who came seeking a better place. 

Hard to understand how and why the congress reps of south Fl stay for decades then to critizise the Castro brothers... 

Even the District attorney is untouchable ... it will take another two generations to get the Castro's and the othe one's here out of power. One day will be a better Miami.

sabrina_lane03
sabrina_lane03

The Republicans are not the individuals who voted using the names of dead people.  Nor are republicans the people who had acorn cast multiple votes by the same voter.  Republicans are also not the people who have tried to not require people from showing ids at the polls.  If democrats believed they would win honestly they would not oppose being required to show government issued ids. 

felixelgato1954
felixelgato1954

Without voter fraud, Republicans don't stand a chance.

Hialeahresident
Hialeahresident

This people forgot to mention that Raul Martinez is a Democrat Not  a Repoblican.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

This is a real problem here and the disparity in registrations for democrats v. Repbus voters this year is astounding. Add the fraud you brought up in your post we should have FBI, DOJ investigating the results of  Rick Scott. marco rubio”

Samodean
Samodean

@Scapes WHY FLORIDA? Augh....

NiloJuri1
NiloJuri1

I'm Nilo Juri and no one of my campaign wokers, were arrested and charged with 20 absentee ballots or sentenced to 6 months etc. If there is a name and evidence of this, please let me know which Trial Transcript page you read and researched that, because it was my Case and that didin't happened.

This is what you wrote:

"The only person to get whacked over the scheme was one of Juri's workers, who admitted to forging signatures on 20 ballots and received six months of probation. Despite testimony from 70 sources, neither Martinez nor anyone from his campaign were charged. A 142-page close-out report released in 1996 by Moira Lasch, the special prosecutor, blamed state laws for making it almost impossible to get convictions.

kkhflyfish
kkhflyfish

hhhmmm, lets see.....ACORN registering thousands of dead people to vote, the black panthers intimidating people into voting for obama at certain polling places....are they really trying to say that republicans are the only ones out there committing voter fraud?   the democrats are the KINGS of voter fraud!!!  oh the hypocrisy......

sirock
sirock

Dems throwing mud seeing what sticks maybe no one will ask about obama

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Liberals calling out Republics for Voter Fraud is the best example of the Pot calling the Kettle Black there is.

run.randrand
run.randrand

Mi-ami izzzzzzzzzz 4 MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! ( where;s that "thumbs-up logo"???!)

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

welcome to the banana republic 'spend money like theres no tomorrow"

 

voter fraud

medicare fraud

Nepotism in the workplace

welfare surport for billionaires teams owner aka new area

Crooked  Politician

thunnel to no where

infostructure falling apart

failing schools

money pits like the Adrienne Arsht Center, miami art museum and so on

janemiami
janemiami

ES&S DS200 Optical Scanners are a problem. They overheat, they lose data, they do not create event logs, they are hackable.  All this noise about AB's and we may be overlooking the biggest issue. I am no fan of buying elections with AB's, but pay attention to these scanners lest we find out that it is not who votes that counts, but rather, how we count the votes.  This needs to be addressed. 

dannyboy864
dannyboy864

 @kkhflyfish Are you serious?! Maybe do some research on the Acorn situation. Acorn is the one that noticed a few of their employees had participated in voter registration fraud and they immediately took action. That's when Faux News came in and acted like they didn't do anything. After a year long investigation, nobody was convicted and the Judge on the case understood that there was no truth to the allegations. Talk about FRAUD!! Try visiting bradblog.com and researching Strategic Allied Consulting as well as Nathan Sproul. Talk about the largest fraud in voter history. Of course Faux isn't covering any of it. 

run.randrand
run.randrand

 @janewlker PUT YOUR BALLOTS UP GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT'S  ARSE---AND JUST SEE WHAT PRINTS OUT!----------

 

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