Despite uncovering thousands of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests submitted online last year, Miami-Dade County will not follow recommendations made by a grand jury to make the elections website more secure by requiring user logins and passwords. Instead, the elections department has worked with its software vendor to try to beef up the system on the back end, making it easier for elections staff to review ballot requests to flag suspect submissions. The change, which will take effect next year, will not cost the county any more money. Requiring user logins and passwords would have required an initial investment of about $843,000, with a potential recurring cost of about $743,000 in every major election, Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley said. Legitimate voters might have been dissuaded to request ballots if the online system was made more cumbersome, she added. “It would have also deterred voters,” she told the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
The phony absentee-ballot requests set off state investigations into potential voting fraud after Townsley’s staff alerted prosecutors before the August 2012 primary election that they had flagged more than 2,500 online requests as suspicious.
Florida law requires that voters or their immediate family members file ballot requests. The submissions identified by the elections department came in bulk from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses, in some cases listing fake voter email addresses.
The origin of most of the requests was masked by foreign IP addresses that prosecutors concluded could not be traced.