A week after the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office confirmed it was investigating allegations of absentee-ballot fraud, a Hialeah woman has been arrested for violation of a county ordinance that prohibits having more than two ballots. Deisy Penton de Cabrera, 56, was arrested Thursday on two counts of violating the ordinance and one count of absentee-ballot fraud, a third degree felony, according to an arrest warrant.
A pair of candidates who lost their Miami-Dade races earlier this month have filed lawsuits to challenge the results, citing the recent absentee-ballot fraud investigation.
Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Joe Martinez and former property appraiser Pedro J. Garcia filed separate lawsuits Friday asking for absentee votes to be thrown out, according to the Miami Herald.
About 88,000 absentee ballots out of more than 233,000 overall were cast in the mayoral race, which was won by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Taking away the absentees and using only Election Day and early voting ballots, Martinez would have made it to a runoff against Gimenez.
In the property appraiser race, won by state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 80,000 absentee ballots out of almost 207,000 were cast. Throwing out those absentee ballots would give Garcia his job back.
Earlier this month, a woman and man were arrested on voter fraud charges for violating a county ordinance that prohibits having more than two absentee ballots, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said.
In the first case, 56-year-old Daisy Penton de Cabrera allegedly forged the signature of an elderly nursing home resident on an absentee ballot. She was also found with 12 signed absentee ballots, authorities said.
Days later, 74-year-old Sergio Robaina, the uncle of former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina, was arrested and accused of filling out absentee ballots for a woman and her son.
Authorities have found 195 ballots collected by Cabrera, Robaina and other ballot brokers and six of the ballots were seized and not used in the election, according to the Herald. Four other ballots were rejected by the Miami-Dade canvassing board.
“I know there was fraud," Martinez told the Herald.
Gimenez responded, claiming Martinez was "grasping at straws."
"There may be a taint on the election, but it’s not to the extent of 90,000 ballots," Gimenez said. “He’s trying to disenfranchise 90,000 voters, and to me, I think that’s unconscionable."
The candidates had until Monday to contest the election.
“With the number of problems we’ve had and the number of people we’ve had handling the ballots, it’s clear that they have been manipulated," Garcia told the Herald.
Lopez-Cantera said he respects Garcia’s right to sue “even if I question his motives and wholeheartedly disagree with his assumptions," but added that "At the end of the day the outcome will be the same."