An elderly Hialeah man will accept probation and plead guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges he illegally possessed absentee ballots, setting up a legal showdown challenging a Miami-Dade County law governing ballot collection.
Sergio “ El Tío” Robaina, 75, was arrested last year during a much-publicized police investigation into absentee ballots.
The use of the ballots, which voters can turn in by mail or in person to the elections department, has skyrocketed in Miami-Dade in recent years. Allegations of absentee-ballot fraud shook the August 2012 primary as police investigators arrested two ballot brokers, or boleteros, on voter-fraud charges.
That included Robaina, who was accused of illegally collecting absentee ballots, a misdemeanor, and of felony voter fraud charges for allegedly filling out a ballot against the wishes of two voters, one of them a woman with dementia.
Robaina has long admitted to collecting the ballots but merely as a way to help elderly citizens, but he denied filling them out. The felony portion of the case was hampered after the woman with dementia died late last year, leaving only her reluctant adult son to testify against Robaina.