Friday, December 31, 2010
The most troubling issue of 2010: Absentee Ballot Fraud. By Geniusofdespair
Absentee ballot fraud is the issue I see that is most troubling and the issue I want to put effort into in the New Year. That is my resolution.
Both the State Attorney's office and the Elections Department acknowledge problems with Absentee ballots (Elections less so) exist. I think both men mean well but that doesn't change the problem. The Elections chief, Lester Sola, had a long talk with me. He can't fix the problems. He assured me that he is taking all precautions. But I think he fails in properly matching the signatures. I went to see one absentee ballot 2 weeks ago and it CLEARLY was a forgery - nothing like the signature of the voter who was denied her vote (a forged absentee ballot was submitted in her name, when she went to vote on election day they wouldn't allow her to vote). Sola said it is a judgment call and that the signature that the 3 of us looked at was in his office's opinion: Okay. Folks, it was not "OKAY" by a long shot. Sola was pretty testy over the matching. I say, what I saw, was shoddy signature matching. I think that Sola should employ a handwriting expert like Harvey Ruvin did for the petitions. In their effort to make sure every vote counts, the Elections Department is doing us a disservice. I am tired of the 'intent of the voter' argument. Let them fucking learn how to fill out a damn form, put a fucking stamp on an envelope and learn to sign their fucking name or have their ballot disqualified. It says on the form that your vote will be disqualified if you cross out...well guess what, on absentee ballots that doesn't hold true. Also not signing an absentee ballot does not disqualify it, and the Elections Department will pay for postage too. They bend over backwards on these absentee ballots and it hurts fair voting. It gives absentee ballot voters an advantage over us that vote early or on election day.
The State Attorney's office, Joe Centorino, also had a long talk with me. He can't fix the problems either. They both admit there are problems in these senior facilities. Lester Sola believes that campaigns need to be held more accountable for the fraud. Joe just asks that you give him someone to prosecute, in other words, an ironclad case. Raul Martinez's campaign stuck their necks out and did give Centorino names and they even had two tampered with ballots found at elections. Still nothing ever came of it. So it just keeps going and going and we get stuck with crappy candidates that know how to beat the system. Centorino says that the practice of picking up ballots is prohibited by code (a practice he found in the Raul Martinez case) but the ordinance includes no criminal penalty so his hands are tied there. As Centorino noted when he closed his investigation in May of this year:
"While the circumstances provide ample basis for suspicion of illegal or improper activity in connect with the handling of absentee ballots by someone associated with the Diaz-Balart campaign, any chance of proving a crime is remote."
The case was closed and we all lose. Am I angry, you bet I am.