Florida officials reportedly discovered a scheme to register dozens of dead people as Democratic voters in Broward County.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that an unidentified person based in Columbia, South Carolina, submitted at least 54 new voter applications in July, many for voters from the Northeast that were elderly or recently deceased. The voter applications were written with the same neat handwriting and arrived at the Broward elections office several in each of 19 envelopes.
Broward elections officials flagged the applications as suspicious and reported them to the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement reportedly began an investigation and in August launched a sting operation to catch the fraudster.
A spokesman for the state attorney’s office declined to give the Sun-Sentinel a comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.
The scheme came to light when the Sun-Sentinel inquired with election officials about mysterious voter ID cards that were sent to homes in a neighborhood in Davie. The paper was tipped off about the suspicious voter ID cards after one of the residents who received them alerted Richard DeNapoli, the Republican state committeeman from Broward, who then took the story to the media.
Broward Elections Supervisor Pete Antonacci confirmed to the Sun-Sentinel that the voter ID cards were part of a larger attempt at criminal election fraud.
“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.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, at least three of the fraudulent voter registration applications went undetected and were added to the Broward voter rolls in July.
One of the voter ID cards received by Davie residents was for a 104-year-old woman who died in Naples in June. Her son told the Sun-Sentinel that he’d notified officials to remove her from the voter rolls in July. She had no connection to Broward County.
Another was for a 77-year-old woman from Newton, Connecticut, who died on June 24 and was registered to vote in Broward one month later. The third was for a 90-year-old man, but the Sun-Sentinel could not confirm if he was also deceased.
Antonacci said that one of the “weaknesses” of the voter registration system that makes it susceptible to fraud is the time lag between when a voter dies and when election officials are notified of the death.
“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 explained. “With determination, you can muscle your way in.”
Election officials are adamant that none of the fraudulent voter registrations will cast ballots in the presidential election.
Antonacci explained that because these voter registration applications were submitted by mail, under Florida law the fraudsters would have to show identification before casting a ballot either in person or by mail.
“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.”