With three crucial elections still undecided in Florida, Miami-Dade County announced today that they had completed their recount of their district’s ballots in the post-election tabulations.
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However, according to an article in The Miami New Times, photos the newspaper has obtained show piles of mailed-in ballots sitting inside the same Opa-Locka mail distribution center that had been evacuated last month after pipe bombs sent by deranged Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc passed through it.
Several demonstrators assembled outside the mail center as well as in front of the headquarters of the Miami-Dade County Elections Department to bring attention to the uncounted votes which sources say may be contained in hundreds of undelivered ballots.
“Suzy Trutie, a spokesperson for the Elections Department, told New Times her office was aware of the ballots but confirmed nothing else about them. She said that, per state law, any ballots not delivered to the Miami-Dade Elections Department by 7 p.m. on Election Day could not be counted toward the 2018 total.”
“‘We do our best to educate voters that, if you’re voting vote-by-mail, then your ballot had to be at the Elections Department by Tuesday, November 6,’ she said. ‘Not everybody mailed back in time.'”
Trutie says that ballots were picked up three times on election day, and once every day during the leadup to the deadline. She referred questions about whether the ballots in the photos had arrived at the post office before that deadline to the U.S. Postal Service.
CBS Miami reporter Ty Russell spoke to postal officials who said that the ballots were most likely sent too late to legally be counted.
From USPS “we have no information to suggest any ballots were not properly handled and provided to local election officials, per our established process.” Election leaders told me they’ll receive mail in ballots from people who sent them late but they won’t be counted. @CBSMiami https://t.co/YshLhTf1mT
— Ty Russell (@TRussellCBS4) November 9, 2018
The Miami Herald says that the USPS is still investigating the way ballots were handled, particularly in light of the fact that Florida law provides a 10-day extension for overseas voters and service members.
The Miami New Times, however, spoke to sources who told a story of inefficiency and frustration at the mail distribution center.
“But sources who spoke with New Times privately worried that ballots had potentially been sitting inside the mailroom for days or weeks before Election Day. Sources expressed frustration that more wasn’t done to collect outstanding ballots before the 7 p.m. election deadline. One source who claimed to have reported the issues to the Elections Department said that the Opa-locka distribution center was understaffed and that there were not enough employees to handle the flood of ballots that had come in just before the election,” according to the paper.
They also posted a tweet featuring a video interview with a purported postal worker at the facility that indicates that uncounted ballots were left at the facility despite having arrived before the 7 PM election day deadline.
The allegations of uncounted votes in such a tight and crucial election resonate more with the legacy of voter suppression in the South than with any of President Trump’s pitiful attempts to claim that Democrats were manufacturing found votes in another case of his imaginary electoral fraud, accusations that only seem to emerge in cases where a Republican victory is threatened.
With the outcome of the Governor’s race, the Senate contest, and several down-ballot positions still to be determined, it’s imperative that every valid vote be counted accurately. Until the USPS completes a full investigation into the undelivered ballots, no one can be sure what the final vote count should have been. Let’s hope that democratic principles prevail and every voter gets their chance to have their choices officially registered.