The unauthorized party affiliation switching of South Florida voters from Democratic to Republican has been anything but a one-off occurrence. Miami Herald reports that of the more than 140 voters it spoke to, nearly all of them had their party affiliation changed by Republican canvassers without their permission. Many of these voters have been lower income and immigrants, targeted in Hialeah and Little Havana housing.
Among them was 69-year-old Nelia Estevez, who told Miami Herald she’d been a registered Democrat “since the day I became a citizen.” But documents showed she’d been switched by canvassers to Republican last December. She knew nothing about this. “Estevez doesn’t even remember speaking with any of them,” the report said.
“In all, 22 voters at Vernon Ashley Plaza, the public housing complex in Hialeah where Estevez lives, told reporters their party affiliation had also been changed without their knowledge or consent last year,” Miami Herald reported. “All of them became Republicans. All of the paperwork was submitted by Republican Party canvassers, records show.” In Estevez’s case, GOP operatives submitted documents changing her affiliation not once, but twice. “They changed me,” she told the outlet. “Who would do this?”
Republicans, that’s who, and canvassers were deliberate in the victims they selected, targeting and misleading the elderly, immigrants—folks who might encounter a more challenging and difficult time in correcting the unauthorized changes. Several told Miami Herald they worried about how to reverse this trickery, citing their health. “I need help. I can’t see well,” one woman said. “I’m very worried,” said a second. “I have bad knees and I just can’t handle this on top of everything else.”
Just truly revolting, despicable stuff here from a political party that has made the Big Lie—the false belief that only Republicans can have legitimate electoral wins, and if a Democrat wins, it’s because they cheated—a foundational principle. Meanwhile, Florida GOP Executive Director Helen Aguirre Ferré “declined to speak with reporters,” instead repeating a past talking point about following “applicable laws.”
Not a shocker for an official who once upon a time criticized the insurrectionist president’s then-campaign, only to delete her tweets and go work for him. Aguirre Ferré was at one time a staunch backer of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, campaigning for his failed 2016 presidential run. Yet she still went to work for the insurrectionist president even after he launched a racist attack against Bush’s wife, Columba, who is a Mexican immigrant.
Also trying to avoid the issue is state Sen. Joe Gruters, who claimed “he was not aware of the Herald’s findings.” It’s just truly fascinating that Gruters would pretend to not know about a huge scandal in his state despite having plenty of time to pal around with anti-immigrant organizations, apparently. In partially striking down an anti-immigrant law championed by Gruters, a federal judge noted anti-immigrant groups were “intimately involved” in crafting the legislation.
“Whatever ends up happening, we will deal with it internally in terms of, if there’s a bad apple somewhere, we’ll replace them immediately,” Gruters told Miami Herald. Bad apple, meet bad apple.
Daily Kos’ Rebekah Sager has previously noted that state lawmakers had called for an investigation into the unauthorized changes, including issuing an appeal to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Miami Herald reports that a number of residents who shared their stories with the outlet have already given statements to the state attorney’s office in Miami.
Former GOP strategist John McKager “Mac” Stipanovich told Miami Herald that he suspects “an organized effort” behind the unauthorized changes.
“It strikes me as part of the messaging and the gloating by Florida Republicans about their registration gains,” he said. “It’s part of this effort to build this sense of momentum and inevitability about the Republican Party’s strength with Hispanic voters in Florida ... This enables them to say: ‘Look what’s happening in Florida, in Miami-Dade. Hispanic voters are abandoning the Democratic Party. Join the parade.’”