MIAMI — Earlier this week, Davie resident Pete Fisher opened his mailbox and found three voter registration cards with his address and names of people he didn’t know.
The registered Republican quickly learned that at least two of the people — including a 104-year-old — were dead. Even worse, he said the two were registered Republicans, but the cards listed the party affiliation as Democrat.
“It looked like fraud to me,” he told The Miami Herald Friday. “This is a serious problem.”
Turns out, the fraudulent registrations are likely part of a bigger scheme in which a person in Columbia, South Carolina, sent in dozens of registration applications, according to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office. Many of the people listed on the forms had already died, according to emails between Supervisor of Elections Pete Antonacci and the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The more than 50 applications, which came in 19 separate envelopes, were flagged by the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office and handed over to the State Attorney’s Office for an investigation in August. Even though the registrations were submitted, no one tried to vote or request a ballot with those names, said Steve Vancore, a spokesman for the elections office.
Vancore added that because the forms were filled out by mail and there was no Social Security number or driver’s license number, a person would have to show a photo ID with a signature to vote.
The scheme was first reported by the Sun Sentinel, who was flagged by Richard DeNapoli, a Republican state committeeman from Broward.
DeNapoli said Friday that Fisher contacted him and sent him photos of the registration cards. DeNapoli then contacted reporters at the Sentinel.
“It looked credible,” said DeNapoli. “Who knows what the intent was here.”
Of the 50 or so applications received in those 19 envelopes, about 30 of them were for people who had died, according to an email sent to Antonacci from the state attorney’s office.
Tracking the person who sent them has been difficult because there was no return address on the envelopes. Vancore said the scheme relied on the fact that there is a “lag time” when the elections office is alerted to a person’s death.
The state attorney’s office declined to comment on the case Friday, citing the open investigation. Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said in an email that the department takes “any allegation of voter fraud very seriously because it affects our very democracy.”
©2020 Miami Herald