In our special pre-election Voter Shenanigans update comes news from that burg of election iniquity, Broward County, Florida.
It was a registration scam spotted by an eagle-eyed Republican who notified the local party, which brought it to the attention of local elections officials.
The South Florida SunSentinel followed up reports from a Davie, Fla., man who claimed to have been mailed three voter ID cards. It turns out that he wasn’t the only one. There were 50 such fake Democrat Party voter registrations mailed to strangers in the same neighborhood, with the fraudster apparently hoping to intercept and use the registrations and vote the ballots. And, it turns out, this was part of a larger scam spotted by state officials in July.
Broward Elections Supervisor Pete Antonacci told the SunSentinel the attempted voter fraud was widespread.
Thirty of the 50 people whose names were used to get a voter registration were purloined from some of the finest graveyards in the country, according to the hero homeowner, Pete Fisher, who blew the whistle on the scam to the media.
“Sure enough one of them was a 104-year-old woman who died in Naples in June. Her son was aghast that her identity had been stolen. He said he’d notified officials in July to remove her from voter rolls. She had no ties to Broward County.
Another ID sent to Fisher was that of a 77-year-old Newtown, Conn., woman who died June 24, and was registered to vote in Broward one month later. The third was a 90-year-old man.
Antonacci confirmed that most of those “registered” were dead and he admitted that it’s easy to register dead voters because of the lag time between the deaths and voter rolls being culled of their names.
Antonacci said there is a lag time when a voter dies, before elections officials are notified. The scammer appeared to take advantage of it.
“This is one of the weaknesses,” Antonacci said.
“The system is based on the honor system, and the honor system is supposedly bolstered by the fact that if you lie on one of these applications, it’s a crime,” he said, adding that he knows of no such prosecutions. “With determination, you can muscle your way in.”
“Honor systems” only work for honorable people, however.
The State’s Attorney’s Office found that someone from Columbia, S.C., sent in at least 54 new voter applications. Local officials in Broward County noticed the similar handwriting in July and a sting was set up in August.
“This is an organized effort by someone who knew a little bit about Florida law but not a lot, and had a scheme to either undermine the Florida registration system with fake voters, or intended to vote 50 times,” Antonacci said.
Registering dead or fraudulent voters is illegal, but not difficult, the scheme shows. Each application was blank where driver license and social security numbers were to be filled in.
He says actually voting under the false registrations would have been harder because ID would have been required.
All the applications were submitted as new registrations on Broward’s voter rolls, so the voter would have to show identification before voting, or when mailing in a ballot, Antonacci said.
The voters would be classified as a “MARG,” or “Mail Registrant” who did not submit the required identification.
“It would have been another layer of fraudulent activity in order for them to vote,” Broward elections spokesman Steven Vancore said. “They did not vote.”
But though are some ID requirements in Florida, ID is not required in all mail-in ballot cases.
Elections officials don’t think they caught all the fake registrations and some were processed, so there’s that.
If the unknown South Carolina resident is ever caught, which is unlikely, he or she could go to prison for a minimum of ten years for criminal use of identification.