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Florida's absentee ballots: easy to cast, open to fraud

With a relentless barrage of phone calls, mailers and targeted ads, local and statewide campaigns are now aggressively pursuing absentee voters — the most valued of voters, and the most vulnerable.

Absentee voters, who submit their ballots by mail, make up an ever-increasing share of the Florida electorate — the result of relaxed voting laws and aggressive campaign strategies. In the coming election, as many as one in four Florida voters will cast their ballots from home instead of a voting booth.

In Miami-Dade County, the share of absentee voters this fall could be even higher: Already more than 208,000 absentee ballots have been mailed to Miami-Dade voters since Oct. 5.

In the primary election in August, almost 40 percent of the votes cast in Miami-Dade were absentee. In some precincts in Hialeah and Sweetwater, as many as two-thirds of the votes were cast by mail, records show.

“If you do not work absentee ballots you will not have a successful campaign,” said political consultant Sasha Tirador, who represented several local candidates in the Aug. 14 primary.

That primary also showed the dangers of absentee voting: Miami-Dade police arrested two boleteros, or ballot-brokers, on charges of altering ballots of elderly or disabled voters. The ballot-brokers are also accused of collecting almost 200 ballots from Hialeah voters, violating a local ordinance limiting possession of multiple ballots. More from Scott Hiassen here.

Read more here: from The Miami Herald's Scott Hiaasen here.

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