As election season comes to a close, crimes involving ballots and voting tend to come to light. Though it doesn't happen often, it does happen on occasion. According to Vox, "Voter fraud is extremely rare. As Vox's German Lopez has written, a study by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt found just 35 credible allegations of fraud from 2000 and 2014 - out of more than 800 million ballots cast."
This year in Miami-Dade County two women were caught committing voter fraud and could be in some serious trouble. One woman, 74-year-old Gladys Coego, was charged with being linked to anywhere from two to a dozen fraudulent votes after she was caught using her own pen to fill in votes to be cast for mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado. She is being charged with two counts of felony and turned herself in. She was released on a $10,000 bond. Additionally, 33-year-old Tomika Curgil was caught filling out at least 15 forms for voters who are dead or don't even exist. She was arrested in her home and charged her with five felony counts of submitting false voter-registration information. Her bond was set at $125,000.
In the grand scheme of things, it may seem like a mere 15 votes won't make a difference in an election and while that could be true, it doesn't make this any less of a serious charge.
What is Fraudulent Voting?
According to the Florida Statues, fraud in connection with casting vote is considered any person perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate or aid in the perpetration of any fraud in connection with any vote cast, to be cast, or attempted to be cast, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Also considered a third-degree felony is changing electors' ballots. Whoever fraudulently changes or attempts to change the vote or ballot of any elector, by which actions such elector is prevented from voting such ballot or from voting such ballot as the elector intended is a punishable crime.
What is the Punishment for Fraudulent Voting?
The criminal penalty for fraudulently voting when not legally qualified or for voting more than once when qualified is a fine of $300 to $500, one to two years in prison, and disenfranchisement. Anyone who votes or attempts to vote by assuming the name of another is subject to a fine of $500, one year in prison, and disenfranchisement.
Other types of fraudulent voting violations carry stiffer penalties. Voting in violation of absentee ballot laws is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
If you or someone you know are being accused of fraudulent voting seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney today. They will be able to help you figure out what your next move should be.
(2018, November 15). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0100-0199/0104/0104.html
Mazzei, P. (n.d.). Two women busted for election fraud in Miami-Dade in 2016. Retrieved from https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article111029767.html