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Accused Hialeah ballot broker's lawyers: Miami-Dade absentee-ballot ordinance is unconstitutional

A Miami-Dade ordinance outlawing the collection of more than two absentee ballots is unconstitutional, claims a Hialeah man accused of voter fraud.

In court documents filed Wednesday, Sergio “El Tio” Robaina is asking a Miami-Dade judge to throw out two misdemeanor counts of violating the ordinance.

Prosecutors say Robaina illegally collected ballots, and filled out two against the wishes of two voters, one of them a woman with dementia. Robaina insists he was just helping elderly citizens who could not deliver their absentee ballots themselves.

In an effort to crack down on perceived election fraud,

The Miami-Dade County Commission passed the ordinance in 2011, making the possession of more than two absentees ballots a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

“The Miami-Dade Commission has used a sledge hammer to deal with a flea bite,” his lawyers wrote, saying the ordinance violates Robaina’s right to political expression and deprives well-meaning voters of their right to vote.

The long-expected legal move comes after an election season that prominently featured the use of absentee ballots. Miami-Dade voters in Tuesday’s presidential election cast at least 207,000 absentee ballots, a sizeable jump from 177,000 overall cast four years ago.

Elections officials also have blamed the flood of last-minute absentee ballots for long lines at polls Tuesday and delays in tabulating votes.