Of the 31 absentee ballots that have become the focus of an investigation into possible election fraud in Hialeah, at least one appears to have a forged signature.
The ballot belonged to Zulema Gómez, 81, who entered a nursing home five months ago suffering from Alzheimer’s and a brain tumor. On the ballot’s envelope someone wrote: “The lady is my sister. I sign like this because she has arthritis + she has difficult signing. Thank you.”
However, her sister, Olga Gómez, said Wednesday that she never wrote that message. Two weeks ago, she said, Daisy Cabrera took the blank absentee ballot and promised to go to the nursing home in Miami Springs and deliver it to Zulema. The sisters have known Cabrera for four years, when she visited them during the 2008 presidential election to help them with their absentee ballots.
“She was going to the [nursing] home,” said Gómez, 68. “I don’t know if she actually went, but it’s a lie that I signed that.”
Cabrera could face serious charges if it is established that she forged the signature on the ballot.
Last week, Cabrera, a well-known “ballot woman,” or boletera, in Hialeah, was detained and questioned while carrying a dozen ballots while she rode in a Toyota Camry driven by Matilde Martínez. A day before, she had taken 19 ballots to a post office in Hialeah, not knowing she was being watched by detectives from the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit.
She has not been charged with a crime, although a county ordinance prohibits carrying more than two other people’s absentee ballots. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has said it is expanding the investigation to determine whether a felony has been committed.