Miami Herald wrote:Absentee ballots still source of election fraud
Fannin County, Georgia, was poor, rural and — when I was there in 1985 — downright backward. But there was something decidedly Miami-esque about that little mountain community, at least when it came to fixing elections.
“Why, I reckon vote buying has been going on forever in Fannin County,” Junior Cornett told me. Junior, the county road superintendent, had been convicted of swapping $20 bills for absentee ballots marked to his liking.
Two months later, I was down in the Alabama black belt covering another federal election fraud case. Different culture, same contraband: absentee ballots.
In 1993, after the Hialeah city election was tainted by illicit commerce in absentee votes, a Miami Herald editorial warned, “Florida’s absentee ballot guidelines are among the nation’s most lenient. Indeed, the laws encourage ‘ballot brokers’ who exchange blocs of absentee ballots for money. The Legislature needs to adopt tighter regulations for obtaining absentee ballots. The Florida Senate wisely voted down a bill this year that would have made the code even looser.”
That bit of wisdom did not hold. In 2004, the Legislature relaxed absentee ballot rules. And ballot brokers are still deciding elections. (The Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections mailed out 126,372 absentee ballots for Tuesday’s county mayoral election.) If the rules were any looser, my dog Jasper could vote absentee.
You would have thought that legislators might have been sobered by the infamous 1997 Miami mayoral race. After those results were tossed, a Miami-Dade grand jury reported, “We find that absentee-ballot fraud clearly played an important part in the recent city of Miami elections.’’ But under the standards adopted in 2004, the vote brokers who subverted the 1997 election would have escaped prosecution.
The state attorney’s office found “ample evidence of illegal or improper activity in connection with the handling of absentee ballots” in a 2008 Miami congressional race, but decided our election laws were too tepid to support a prosecution.
Yet this spring, when Florida lawmakers took on election fraud, early voting was curtailed and tough new regulations were imposed voting registration. But absentee voting went unremarked. It was if the Republican-controlled Legislature had been guided by a 2010 state Senate report noting that more Democrats, particularly black voters, took advantage of early voting while “voters casting absentee ballots casting ballots in the 2006 election were predominantly Republican, with 55.5% voting absentee while only 33.3% of Democrats voted absentee.”
So Florida’s new election fraud law, rather conveniently for the ruling party, ignores the main source of election fraud. Poor Junior Cornett. The old crook was fixing elections at the wrong time in the wrong state.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/27/2 ... k=misearch