Charges of rigged elections and voter fraud are flying this election season. In rallies across Florida, Donald Trump supporters have told reporters they fear the election could be fixed. Both elections officials and civic organizations, however, said recent incidents of voter fraud in Florida are the exception, and not the rule.
This week a Central Florida couple learned their absentee ballots had been stolen from their mailbox, but by the time they learned what had happened, the pilfered ballots had already been cast.
The AP reports additional absentee ballots were stolen from other mailboxes near the couple’s homes. In all, five voters in three homes in the Orlando-area neighborhood were taken and cast around Oct. 12.
The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections said the victims have since been given new ballots. Local law enforcement will investigate after the election.
It’s another seemingly isolated case of voter fraud in Florida, after two South Florida women were arrested Friday, Oct. 28, on voter fraud charges in Miami-Dade County. Gladys Coego, 74, was arrested after co-workers say she illegally marked ballots that resulted in two fraudulent votes being cast in the Miami-Dade mayoral race. In an unrelated case, Tomika Curgil, 33, was also arrested Friday after investigators say she unlawfully filled out voter-registration forms on behalf of the campaign to legalize medical marijuana.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement that the elections office quickly detected the violations.
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of State says there's no indication such fraud is widespread.
Pamela Goodman, the president of the League of Women Voters in Florida, said both major parties have asked her organization to investigate fraud claims in the past, but none have borne out.
"With all of these claims of voter fraud, there has not been one case that has gone before a court of law and been proven," Goodman said Monday. "The fact that not one campaign, nor political party, nor voting organization like my own, has brought any case with enough evidence into a court of law, I would challenge anyone who is ... using the term 'rigged.'”
Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed the idea of rigged elections and voter fraud for weeks, without offering any support for his claims. Officials in both parties have criticized his comments as unfounded.