Monday, October 08, 2012

Still Wondering How Rick Scott Won? You Need to Read This...

Crossposted as a Rec/Resc. diary on DKos

For those of you who don't know Florida, we are solid red in the north (especially the panhandle, which is called "Lower [or Baja] Alabama"), purple in the middle (Tampa thru Daytona) and deep blue in the south--especially Miami-Dade County (ranked one of the most liberal counties in America).

In 2010, during Bobblehead Rick Scott's gubernatorial fight with Alex Sink, he got creamed (expectedly) in Miami-Dade County on early voting and Election Day voting. But then something strange happened: Rick Scott won his seat with 20,745 absentee ballots from none other than Miami-Dade County.

His signature issue, (besides gutting education funding, killing high-speed rail, and anything else that makes Florida suck more), is voter suppression. On the heels of his ban on voting by freed prisoners and his now infamous voter "purge", he supported and signed into law last year a large series of voter suppression initiatives that cut early voting and essentially eliminated voter regisration drives.

All of this done in the name of "in-person voter fraud", of which he could find not one single instance of.

Yet strangely, governor Lex Luther and our GOP-controlled legislature, who claimed to be champions of curbing voter fraud, didn't curb the one election fraud issue that not only exists but is unfortunately very common here: absentee-ballot fraud.

None of this is more true than in Miami-Dade County, where absentee-ballot fraud is utterly rampant:

Absentee vote fraud destroying Miami-Dade elections - Miami Herald A dramatic increase in absentee voting in recent years means that absentee ballots are increasingly, and disproportionately, deciding our elections. But in many cases absentee voting patterns are so far out of sync with the rest of the county’s voting that it is obvious that something is seriously wrong. We have even reportedly seen cases of absentee ballots found in a local mayor’s car.

Five losing candidates in the August primaries have filed lawsuits in Miami-Dade alleging absentee-ballot fraud; and two ballot collectors (called "boleteros") were arrested.

The top boleteros are Republican, and each has teams of volunteers who have access to hundreds of voters. They are technically tasked with offering to help elderly or infirm voters fill out their ballots and ensure they get mailed. Yet in reality, many of them, shall we say, go "above and beyond" their job. There is ample opportunity to sway, bribe, or cajole their voters.... if not outright fill the ballot out for them and forge their signature.

Yes, that has definitely happened, as you can see if you read the whole article. Candidates in Miami-Dade are often contacted by boleteros promising a certain number of votes for a certain amount of money. This is not a new issue. Back in 1997, the Miami mayor’s race was overturned because of more than 5,000 fraudulent absentee ballots.

Boleteros are well-established and very prevalent in the Republican-heavy Cuban community in Miami-Dade. And Rick Scott was not above hiring them.

One of them was a person Rick Scott paid several thousand dollars to: Ms. Emelina Llanes. And much like her boss, Ms. Llanes is very ethically challenged:

But [Police Chief] Bolaños and another city employee told Miami New Times they saw Llanes go door-to-door at a Hialeah public housing building for the elderly during the city’s 2011 mayoral election, collecting ballots from elderly residents: “When she came out, we approached her because we believed she was carrying ballots,” Bolaños says. “She started yelling that she was being violated and that she had chest pains.” The ex-cop says Llanes, who allegedly had the ballots in a bag, ran into an apartment. When two Hialeah Police officers responded to the scene, they found no ballots, and Llanes denied the accusations.

Ms. Llanes is currently charged with illegally collecting ballots, which include a forged one on behalf of an elderly woman whose ballot was filled out even though she is currently unresponsive in an assisted living facility.

It is illegal to go door-to-door to pick up absentee ballots from elderly residents. Also, you also cannot ever be in possesion of more than two absentee ballots at one time. However, boleteros have been spotted with stacks, even bags full.

I grant you, this is circumstantial evidence at best. Sure, it is possible that unlike the seniors who voted in-person, maybe all those absentee ballot users in Miami-Dade overwhelmingly wanted Rick Scott for some reason. And sure, maybe Ms. Llanes and other boleteros in Miami-Dade were particularly honest in Rick Scott's 2010 gubernatorial election. We can't prove it. I get that.

But we could investigate. A task force could be created to get to the bottom of the problem.. something for some reason our leaders don't want to do.

I suppose some citizen journalists could go to these elderly voters and ask if there were any issues with someone collecting their ballots. You would also be able to tell if certain voters were comatose, unresponsive, or senile, which would wave some serious red flags. The only problem is the legislature mandated that if you vote by mail and request an absentee ballot, it must be kept secret. This is the same legislature, mind you, that mandated that if you vote early, your name will listed ONLINE along with when and where you voted! Because, you know, all the rampant problems with early, in-person.... voting?

(Granted, there is a strong argument that the secrecy helps prevent people from being targeted by boleteros from certain campaigns, but I really think its obvious they already know.)

Rick Scott and this legislature KNOW there is a problem with absentee-ballot fraud. The reason they don't care is that it normally benefits their party greatly. Rick Scott, of course, insists that nothing was shady in his election.

After all, stealing money from the elderly's Medicare is one thing, but stealing their vote? That would just be rude.


  1. Nice article. I also have some work on Rick Scott, if you want to take a look.