Tags: Forged | Ballot | Sparks | Criminal | Investigation | Florida

Forged Ballot Sparks Criminal Investigation in Florida

Thursday, 09 November 2000 12:00 AM

Moreover, the suggestion has been made that the U.S. Postal Service in Miami may have been involved.

According to a blockbuster story in today’s Pensacola News Journal, the Escambia County state attorney’s office is heading an investigation into whether the forgery is part of a larger scheme to redirect mailed ballots to someone other than the person for whom it was intended who then filled out the ballot and forged the real voter’s signature.

"I agree there may well be more than just this one,'' Assistant State Attorney Russ Edgar, who is heading the investigation, told the News Journal. "That's what I'm thinking right now.''

The investigation was set off by a complaint from Bush supporter Todd Vinson, a 28-year-old law clerk in Miami who is registered to vote in Pensacola.

According to Vinson and others familiar with the case, Vinson requested the Escambia County supervisor of elections to mail an absentee ballot to his Miami apartment Oct. 10. When it failed to arrive, he asked for a second ballot on Oct. 24. That also disappeared.

Frustrated, Vinson complained to his father, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, last Thursday. Judge Vinson then called Jones, whose office reviewed all the absentee ballots and discovered a ballot with Todd Vinson's name on it. When he compared the signature on the ballot to the signature on Vinson's voter registration card, the two did not match.

He then faxed a copy of the signature to Todd Vinson.

"It was clearly forged,'' Vinson told the News Journal. "Somebody definitely got hold of it and sent it back in.

"The question is where did they get it, and my speculation was that it happened somewhere in the post office. It made it down here to Miami, but it never made it to me.''

Jones sent a third ballot to Vinson via next-day mail, and it arrived in time for Vinson to cast a ballot for Bush. Jones then notified the State Attorney's Office, U.S. Attorney Mike Patterson and the Florida Division of Elections.

According to Edgar, the signed witness required for all absentee ballots listed a fictitious address.

On Wednesday, Escambia County elections officials discovered what appears to be a second forged absentee ballot. It too has been handed over to state prosecutors. Because neither of the ballots has been opened, it’s not possible at this time to report for whom they were cast.

State Attorney Curtis Golden told the newspaper that if the Postal Service was involved, his office might turn the investigation over to federal law enforcement officials.

Patterson refused to say whether his office is participating in the investigation. He did indicate his office was interested in the matter.

"In general, that kind of voter fraud or fraudulent activity surrounding a federal election is something we would be interested in,'' he said.

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Moreover, the suggestion has been made that the U.S. Postal Service in Miami may have been involved. According to a blockbuster story in today's Pensacola News Journal, the Escambia County state attorney's office is heading an investigation into whether the forgery is part...
Forged,Ballot,Sparks,Criminal,Investigation,Florida
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2000-00-09
Thursday, 09 November 2000 12:00 AM
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