Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Florida Makes a Move to Rein in Voter Fraud Latest Move Comes in Wake of Widespread Absentee-Ballot Fraud in Miami Election

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Florida Makes a Move to Rein in Voter Fraud Latest Move Comes in Wake of Widespread Absentee-Ballot Fraud in Miami Election

Article excerpt

Nothing says election fraud like a ballot cast from a cemetery.

On paper, Manuel Yip seemed an active and regular voter in Miami, casting ballots four times between 1993 and 1997.

There was just one problem: He passed away five years ago. The illegal vote made under Mr. Yip's name in 1997 is perhaps the most obvious example of what prosecutors and election officials say was a massive, well-orchestrated attempt to illegally influence the outcome of last fall's mayoral election in Miami. Last week the Florida legislature passed an election-reform package that supporters say will make it more difficult to attempt to undermine the election process. But critics of the bill say it doesn't go far enough in outlawing the kind of partisan vote- brokering of absentee ballots that led to Miami's large-scale fraud. The reform package has raised questions about who is the rightful mayor of Miami. And it has left many voters who cast legitimate absentee ballots complaining that their votes were stolen - not during the election by unscrupulous "vote brokers," but afterward by judges seeking to correct the election fraud. Most of the questionable activities have been linked to campaign workers supporting the candidacy of former Mayor Xavier Suarez. There is no evidence that Mr. Suarez knew of any improper activities, but he benefited from large numbers of suspect absentee ballots. Suarez supporters acting as "vote brokers" procured hundreds of absentee ballots and are alleged to have pressured voters to support their candidate. In other cases they allegedly bought or stole absentee votes. The result was that in addition to at least one deceased Miami resident, votes were also cast in the last election by: * Convicted felons barred by Florida law from voting. * Non-residents whose absentee ballots were filed as if they were city residents. * People who evidently cast votes in others' names. Out of 44,000 total votes, some 5,000 absentee ballots were cast in the mayoral election. Incumbent Mayor Joe Carollo won 49.6 percent of all votes, falling 160 votes shy of the 50 percent needed to become mayor. …

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