Uncle Luke: USPS Cuts Stifled Thousands of Miami-Dade Voters

In the August 18 election, more than 3,000 mail-in ballots were rejected for arriving late.
In the August 18 election, more than 3,000 mail-in ballots were rejected for arriving late. Photo by Upupa4me/Flickr
click to enlarge In the August 18 election, more than 3,000 mail-in ballots were rejected for arriving late. - PHOTO BY UPUPA4ME/FLICKR
In the August 18 election, more than 3,000 mail-in ballots were rejected for arriving late.
Last week's primary election in Miami-Dade County served as a test run for how Republicans are going to cheat their way to victory in November. If anyone is going to steal the election through fraud, it's Donald Trump and the GOP. And if the results are contested, Miami-Dade will be the epicenter, just like in the 2000 presidential recount that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court handing over the White House to George W. Bush.

Because of this year's post-office shenanigans, thousands of Miami-Dade ballots that were likely postmarked before August 18 were not counted, and the voters don't even know it. Thousands more who had their mail-in ballots rejected because of problems with their signatures didn't have enough time to fix them.

The impact was huge. Those ballots could have made the difference in the Miami-Dade mayor's race, several county commission races, the Miami Gardens mayor's race, and races for state representatives that were decided by several hundred votes. Based on what happened, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should issue an executive order to guarantee that all voters have their mail-in ballots counted if they are postmarked by Election Day. If he doesn't do it, then we'll know DeSantis is in on the plot to rig the presidential election.

Miami-Dade Elections Department spokesperson Suzy Trutie told New Times that 3,172 mail-in ballots were rejected for arriving after 7 p.m. on August 18, when the polls closed. Another 3,512 mail-in ballots weren't counted because the voter didn't sign it, the signature didn't match the one on file, or because of some other issue.

As soon as a ballot problem is discovered, the elections department mails a letter to the voter to allow as much time as practicable to correct the problem, according to Trutie. She says voters are also contacted by phone, text, and email if the elections department has their contact information on file.

I learned about the uncounted votes from Jessica Laguerre Hylton, a candidate for the District 117 state House seat representing South Miami-Dade. She lost to Kevin Chambliss by only 221 votes. Hylton says an elections-department employee informed her about the uncounted mail-in ballots last Wednesday. She was provided with a spreadsheet with the names of 435 people whose ballots either had no signature or one that didn't match.

Hylton says she and her husband tracked down dozens of those voters who told them they didn't receive any notice from the elections department that something was amiss. And even if they did receive a notice, Miami-Dade requires voters to correct their mail-in ballot by 5 p.m. on the Thursday after the election.

Two days is not enough time if voters have to rely on the post office, and they are not going to spend $25 to send the paperwork back using FedEx or UPS. But given that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is a Republican running for Congress by kissing up to Trump, he's not going to order elections supervisor Christina White to count the rejected ballots.

Of course, anyone who has been watching Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testify to Congress about his gutting of the U.S. Postal Service would know that he's engaging in a systematic effort to suppress mail-in voting for the presidential election. We all know President Donald Trump is refusing to fund the USPS because he wants to hinder states' expansion of mail-in voting.

DeJoy, who gave Trump gobs of campaign money, is refusing to reinstall 600 mail-sorting machines that have been removed from mail facilities across the country. According to the Washington Post, 59 machines were removed in Florida, more than were removed in eight other swing states.

The removal of these machines assured that mail-in ballots would arrive late to the Miami-Dade elections office. States including Alaska, California, and Illinois, plus the District of Columbia, count mail-in ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but arrive after the polls close. Considering we are in the middle of a pandemic and the mail is taking longer than usual, Florida law should be changed so mail-in ballots that are postmarked by Election Day get counted.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Listen to Luke's podcast, The Luke Show.