Skip to content

Where Did All Those Absentees Come From?

August 15, 2012

Well, the primary election is over and the question in Miami-Dade is not who won, but rather whether all those absentee ballots were really legit.  A lot of people don’t think they were, and there’s increasing evidence to back up that suspicion.  Eye on Miami has been doggedly pursuing this issue for quite some time, and now the mainstream press is finally starting to pay attention.

First of all, there’s just the sheer number of absentee ballots in the count.  According to the Miami Herald, there were some 92,000 absentee ballots counted in the August 14 primary elections (both Republican and Democrat), which amounts to some 37 percent of the total number of votes.

I find that a truly astonishing figure.  I wondered how that might compare with other places, so I took a look at the returns for this year’s primary in my former hometown, Washington, DC, where the Democratic primary is the real election.  Turns out that there were only 3,300 absentee ballots sent out (presumably fewer than that were actually returned), which amounts to only 5.6% of the 58,210 votes cast.  Now, DC local politics isn’t exactly squeaky clean, but that is a huge difference.

Most of the attention is focused on the Miami-Dade mayoral race, where some 38 percent of the ballots were absentee.  Winner Carlos Gimenez got 54% of the total vote, but 62 percent of the absentee votes in this race, and slightly under 50 percent of the early and election day votes, which has led losing opponent Joe Martinez to threaten to challenge the outcome.

The odd thing is that the percentage of absentee votes within the Miami-Dade Democratic primary varies a great deal from one race to another.  (I have not looked at the Republican primary results at all.)  To take another hotly-contested county-wide race, for State Attorney, the percentage of absentee ballots was considerably less—only about 28 percent.  Here again, the absentee votes increased the winner’s margin of victory, though not quite as much as in the mayoral race.

The one that really caught my eye was State Senate District 39, which was essentially a 3-man race.  The winner, Dwight Bullard, got 49.4 percent of the early and election day vote, but only 33 percent of the absentee vote.  [Note:  These numbers refer to the Miami-Dade vote only and don’t include votes in other counties in the district.]   His opponent, James Bush III, got almost exactly the reverse proportion:  32.6 percent of the early and election day vote and 47 percent of the absentee vote.  The third man in the race, Ron Saunders, got a consistent 11 percent of both.  Now that’s weird.  And, to my eye, a big red flag.

If I were doing an investigation of absentee ballot fraud, I would certainly start with a statistical analysis to look for these sort of anomalies.  On the face of it, one would assume that almost everyone in local politics is using absentee ballots to pump up their vote totals, probably fearing that if they don’t then their opponent will.  Which probably means that there will never be a meaningful investigation into this mess by state or local authorities because almost everyone’s hands are dirty to one degree or another.

But this also tells me that it’s way too easy to get an absentee ballot here—and to manipulate the system for massive fraud.  There’s something seriously wrong with a system where more than a third of the voters don’t actually cast their ballots in person. I certainly don’t understand all the rules governing absentee voting, but it’s hard for me to understand why boleteros (the absentee vote bundlers) should ever be allowed to handle someone else’s vote.

What’s really scary, though, is the thought that this could affect the outcome of the presidential election in November.  I remain psychically scarred by the 2000 election debacle and have never quite forgiven Florida for saddling us with George W. Bush.  Maybe the only saving grace is that both parties have people capable of abusing the absentee votes—but it’s hard to know who’s better at doing it.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: