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Some absentee voters in Hialeah probe insist they did not hand their ballots to suspected brokers

Olga Roqueta, 77, and her husband say they filled out their absentee ballots without help and put them in their mailbox weeks before the Aug. 14 election.

Alberto Rodríguez, 42, said Anamary Pedrosa, a former employee in Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo’s Hialeah office, passed by his house to pick up his ballot.

Doris Martínez, 83, said she and her husband gave their sealed ballots to their old friend Sergio Robaina.

Roqueta, Rodríguez and Martínez are among the 164 voters whose ballots are the focus of an ongoing voter-fraud investigation that has led to the arrest of Robaina and inquiries about an additional half-dozen possible ballot-brokers, or boleteros.

The stories of these voters — mostly elderly Hispanics who vote Republican — offer a glimpse into theboletero operations that depend on networks of friends and family, and are an entrenched part of Hialeah politics. In many cases, their stories conflict with the facts offered by authorities.

Pedrosa, who does not face charges, told authorities that Robaina and others gave her the ballots in Bovo’s office. She then dropped them into a blue mailbox outside the post office at 2200 NW 72nd Ave., where a postal employee discovered them July 26.

More than 60 voters whose ballots were part of this batch told reporters they could not explain how they got there.

“I voted, signed and put them in my mailbox,” said Roqueta, one of 14 voters who told a similar story.

Sources close to the investigation say the ballots all appeared to have been deposited together, which was why the postal agent who found them alerted police.

Close to three dozen voters told reporters they mailed their ballots themselves.

More from Melissa Sanchez, Enrique Flor and Alfonso Chardy here.

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