Citing an ongoing absentee-ballot fraud investigation in Hialeah, two Miami-Dade politicians who lost their election contests two weeks ago say they have sued to challenge the results.
County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who ran for Miami-Dade mayor, and Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia, defeated in his reelection bid, filed parallel lawsuits Friday asking the courts to throw out the absentee votes in their countywide races, according to a lawyer representing both men.
Without the absentees, the results would rely only on ballots cast during early voting and on Election Day. In that case, Martinez would have narrowly made it to a runoff against Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Garcia would have defeated state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Prosecutors have charged two suspected Hialeah ballot brokers known as boleteros, Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina, with voter fraud. Cabrera allegedly forged the ballot signature of a terminally ill woman in a nursing home; Robaina allegedly filled out two absentee ballots with his own candidate choices, not those of the voters involved.
As part of the investigation, authorities have identified 195 absentee ballots collected by Cabrera, Robaina or other brokers. Six of those ballots were seized by investigators and not counted in the Aug. 14 election. The county’s three-person canvassing board rejected four other ballots collectedby the brokers because the signatures on the ballot envelopes did not match voter signatures on file. In an interview Monday, Martinez cited the Hialeah arrests as enough evidence to contest the election.