North Miami Beach officials want to avoid drama, confusion and voter-fraud issues that have plagued campaign seasons of the past. The last two municipal elections were tainted with soap-opera-style incidents that included accusations of death threats, campaign misdeeds and complaints about an incumbent mayor unfairly targeting opponents with code violations. “We don’t want to have the circus we had two years ago to happen again,” said council member Anthony DeFellipo at Tuesday’s council meeting. With four of the seven council seats up for grabs in the May 5 municipal elections, the council discussed efforts to fend off any confusion that could result in voter fraud or any unfavorable image of their city.
Chuck Asarnow, longtime resident and president of the Eastern Shores Property Association, asked the council to instruct the city clerk to “take additional measures” to verify that candidates are qualified to run for office. Asarnow cited his time as an appointed member for the Charter Review Committee, which he said was disbanded after another appointed member failed residency requirements. “I as well as other members wasted months of time and energy on that committee,” he said. “The city in good faith accepted that statement of residency and did little else.”
City Attorney Jose Smith explained that only the state attorney’s office or a judge has the jurisdiction to remove someone on the ballot illegally, but promised he would carefully monitor the upcoming electoral process.
“I’ve been very involved over the years in addressing the issue of election fraud, absentee ballot fraud, and I know there is a history in this community regarding non-residents filing for office,” Smith said.