Letter: Thoughts On Lox Groves Election

Believe it or not, nearly a year has passed since the last Loxahatchee Groves election. As many of you will recall, last March, at the end of Election Day, the challenger was ahead of the incumbent for Seat 3 by 22 votes. When the absentee ballots were counted, the incumbent won by 11 votes. Throughout this letter, I will use the words “allege,” “alleged” and “allegedly” for legal reasons.

Those of us who lived through the 2015 election are familiar with the “alleged” voter fraud connected with the absentee ballots. In summary, prior to the 2015 election, the town averaged less than 60 absentee ballots for a council election; in 2015, more than 300 absentee ballots were requested; nearly half of the absentee ballots were ordered from one IP address; several of the absentee ballots were sent to one Loxahatchee Groves address; this address is the home address of the Seat 3 incumbent. A search of the public records of the names at this address revealed that some of the absentee ballots were for individuals who, “allegedly,” do not reside in the town and members of the Seat 3 incumbent’s family.

Here we are in 2016 and the postal service is delivering unrequested absentee ballots to town residents. In a 1998 case of voter fraud (Scheer v. City of Miami, 15 F. Supp.2d, 388), an officer of the court opined, “The absentee voting scheme as it now exists in Florida lends itself to fraud, manipulation and deceit. The state legislature continues to attempt improvements, but to date, criminals have found ways to abuse the system.” This voter fraud case was 18 years ago, and the state legislature is still looking for ways to stop absentee voter fraud. If you receive an unsolicited absentee ballot, please call the town clerk at (561) 793-2418 and the Supervisor of Elections at (561) 656-6200 and let them know.

Just in case this doesn’t get your blood pressure up, there is another incident. As you may recall from the 2015 town election, one of our sitting councilmen worked on behalf of candidates for Seat 3 and Seat 1 by “allegedly” going door to door to absentee ballot recipients and offering to “allegedly” help the voter with their ballot. This councilman was seen and caught on camera “allegedly” delivering absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections office. In addition, last year, this councilman was a member of the town’s canvassing board. The town’s charter has rules regarding elections. In the “Elections” section it states, “The election laws of the state shall apply to all elections.” State election laws speak to the membership qualifications to serve on a canvassing board and tell us that a canvassing board member who is an active participant in the campaign of any candidate who has opposition in the election being canvassed, such member shall be replaced. In other words, one of the canvassing board members served on the town’s canvassing board “allegedly” in direct conflict with state law. One of the duties of the canvassing board is to determine if the signature on the absentee ballot matches the signature on record. Can the voters of the town trust someone who is an active participant in a campaign to be a judge of absentee ballot signatures? If we don’t get involved and demand that council uphold the town charter and state law, we’ll be faced with the same “alleged” election fraud. This year, a member of the canvassing board is actively endorsing and campaigning for one of the council incumbents. He publicly announced this at the Feb. 2 council meeting.

Dennis Lipp, Loxahatchee Groves