When a guy in a red hat arrives to knock on the doors of senior citizens in Miami-Dade County, Florida, living in a low-income building, suspicions are rightly raised. Fast forward to months later, when an 84-year-old grandmother’s voter registration card arrived in the mail to show that her lifelong affiliation to the Democratic party had been changed to Republican.
Juan Carlos Salazar, 77, a Dominican living in Little Havana, and registered Democratic voter since the ‘70s, tells the Orlando Sentinel, that in December he was confronted by a group of three canvassers wearing red hats and t-shirts that read “Republican Party of Florida.” They asked if he wanted to fill out an application to get a new voter ID. He says, he “didn’t do anything,” but that he realized his party had been changed to Republican when he received his new registration in the mail.
“This is a system to eliminate voters so that voters can’t participate in the primary,” Salazar said in an interview with the Miami Herald in front of Haley Sofge Towers, the public housing building he’s lived in for the past five years. “It concerns me about what’s going to happen in these next elections ... This is a scam.”
Now, Democratic State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, is promising to investigate allegations of voter fraud, announcing a new initiative that includes a voter protection hotline and task force.
WPLG reports that Miami-Dade Elections Department 2021-22 records show more than 5,000 registered Democrats switched their party affiliation to Republican, but a slew of third-party registration victims have come forward to report that their voter registration was switched without their permission.
Rundle isn’t the only lawmaker calling for an investigation into the possible election interference.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services and a Democratic candidate for governor, wrote a letter Friday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Department of Justice to open a probe.
“As a member of the Florida Cabinet, I take these reports of election interference and voter disenfranchisement extremely seriously,” Fried wrote, citing Local 10′s coverage.” I am especially concerned about the civil rights implications of this reported disenfranchisement because the victims are elderly, low income, and many do not speak English. I request that the Department of Justice immediately begin an investigation into these reports.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also wrote a letter to Rundle calling for an investigation.
On Feb. 2nd, a local news station reported on the seemingly fraudulent changes made to the voter registration status of a local resident of Haley Sofge Towers, a Miami-Dade public housing building,” the mayor wrote. “Under the alleged guise of voter renewal efforts, canvassers entered the building and engaged with elderly residents, who claim they did not approve sudden changes to their party affiliation.”
Friday, Helen Aguirre Ferre, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, sent the below statement WPLG:
“The Republican Party of Florida has worked to register hundreds of thousands of voters and conducts its voter registration operation in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. The Republican Party of Florida is in the business of winning elections. Fraudulently registering voters does not help with that goal. We will thus review the allegations being made in Miami Dade County.
“Election administration is not a perfect process. That is why election integrity continues being a priority for the Republican Party of Florida. We are glad to see our Democratic colleagues recognize the same. We are sure they will now join us this next session in passing a bi-partisan election integrity bill.”