The Miami-Dade elections department is working with its software vendor to make it easier for staff members to flag suspicious requests for absentee ballots. The change will take effect next year. It won’t cost the county any additional money. A grand jury had recommended that the elections department should beef up security on its website by requiring user logins and passwords after the office uncovered thousands of fraudulent requests for absentee ballots in the August 2012 primary election. Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley said the grand jury’s recommendation would have required an initial investment of $843,000, with possible costs of $743,000 in every major election. And, she told The Miami Herald, legitimate voters may have been dissuaded to request ballots if the system were made more challenging. “It would have also deterred voters,” Townsley said.
Her office flagged more than 2,500 suspicious online requests before the most recent primary election. Under Florida law, only the voter or their immediate family members can request a ballot. But the submissions identified by elections workers came in bulk from a handful of Internet Protocol addresses. In some cases, they listed fake email addresses.
The Herald reports that prosecutors found that the origin of most of the requests was masked by foreign IP addresses that couldn’t be traced.