(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- On Tuesday, October 18, 2011, the Miami-Dade Commission has approved an ordinance by Commissioner Rebeca Sosa advocating for stricter penalties for residents caught committing voter fraud with absentee ballots. The ordinance will be amended in the County Code to make violators of current absentee ballot laws pay fines and/or serve jail time.
Typically, absentee ballots are delivered via mail to registered voters. However, voters can elect a designee to pick up and return an absentee ballot on their behalf if they are unable to retrieve or return the ballot by mail or in person. To do this, the designee must provide the Supervisor of Elections with picture identification from the designee and voter, as well as a written statement signed by the voter authorizing the designee to pick up and return the ballot. The statement must include the circumstances as to why the voter cannot claim the ballot in person or by mail. If the designee is not an immediate family member of the voter, the designee must also provide Elections with a written statement signed by a physician on the physician’s stationary that the voter or the voter’s dependent was unable to attend the polls or pick up/return an absentee ballot due to a medical emergency.
A designee cannot retrieve more than two absentee ballots other than his or her own per election, and only one can be for a voter not of the designee's immediate family (i.e. spouse, parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the voter). Additionally, a designee can only pick up and/or return an absentee ballot on the day before or day of the election for an immediate family member and on the day of the election for a non-family member after completing an affidavit that states that the designee is authorized by the voter to retrieve and/or return the ballot.
Commissioner Sosa proposed that any person picking up and/or returning absentee ballots in violation of the provisions will be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or by imprisonment in County jail for no more than 60 days.
“Our Elections personnel does all it can to make voting as accessible as possible during each election by providing absentee ballots. Still, as a county we also need make it clear to residents that there will be severe consequences for anyone caught taking advantage of the system we have in place,” said Commissioner Sosa. “The last thing we want is for our residents’ right to vote to be sullied by voter fraud.”
For more information, please contact Commissioner Sosa’s office at 305-267-6377.