I got a sinking feeling when I read the opening sentence of the Miami Herald article, “Miami-Dade elections department plans software update to catch phony absentee-ballot requests.” It just got worse from there.
The column begins with, “Despite uncovering thousands of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests submitted online last year, Miami-Dade County will not follow recommendations made by a grand jury to make the elections website more secure by requiring user logins and passwords.”
Right out of the box my suspicions were only confirmed that Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley has absolutely no intention of fixing our voter fraud problem.
Instead of complying with the recommendations, Townsley decided that upgrading the system’s software to make it “easier for elections staff to review ballot requests to flag suspect submissions” was all that was needed. Because you know that the Miami-Dade “elections staff” is just so on top of their game that nothing gets by them. I mean, really, what’s a little miscommunication or a mislabeled CD or two every now and then? Anything we can do to make her elections staff’s job “easier” should take a huge burden off their shoulders. After all, it’s hard enough to label a CD!
According to the article, when the grand jury convened last year to deliberate the voter fraud problem in Miami-Dade County, it recommended that the Elections Department upgrade its system to include user logins and passwords in order to request absentee ballots. Townsley, however, claims that this would make the task to request an absentee ballot too “cumbersome” and it would “deter voters.”
Considering that practically every single function done on a computer – from checking email to getting on Facebook, to banking and shopping, etc. – requires a user ID and password, it seems to me that a reasonably intelligent person might be able to figure out how to enter an ID and password to request an absentee ballot. Those of us who have managed to figure out how to turn on a computer and access the internet can usually be trusted to navigate our way around a website or two. But according to Penelope Townsley, the voters of Miami-Dade County are just too damn stupid to remember a password.
Much less label a CD! (Hint: Don’t try this at home.)
Townsley’s chief complaint about having to comply with the grand jury’s recommendation, however, is that doing so would cost too much. She told the Herald that, “Requiring user logins and passwords would have required an initial investment of about $843,000, with a potential recurring cost of about $743,000 in every major election.”
With all the billions of dollars our county government spends during a fiscal year (and far too much of it wasted on bogus “non-profits,” I might add), this is chump change. Ensuring the integrity of our vote for less than a million a year would be a bargain. How much is your vote worth anyway?
Townsley claims that the software upgrade won’t “cost the county any more money.” Are you laughing your ass off yet? That she justifies working with a “software vendor to try to beef up the system” is even more laughable. I could try to perform brain surgery, but that doesn’t mean you should let me.
Another tidbit in the Miami Herald article worth mentioning is the fact that County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo withdrew his proposed legislation to follow the grand jury’s recommendation claiming “he was content with Townsley’s efforts.” Oh, really? How convenient! Perhaps it would be worth looking into how many absentee ballots earned Mr. Bovo his seat on the Commission. Just saying.
The Miami-Dade Elections Department can “try to beef up the system” all it wants, but until Penelope Townsley is capable of grasping the concept that “thousands of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests” is unacceptable to the citizens of Miami-Dade County, there will never be voter confidence in our Elections Department.
After years of logging on, entering a password and doing business online, I am assured that when I point, click and shop, my order will arrive. On time, every time. I’m also confident that secure websites, such as PayPal, protect my credit card information. I have never had a problem.
Thanks to the willful ignorance of Penelope Townsley and her stubborn refusal to fix the voter fraud problem, I still have no way of knowing if my absentee ballot will be stolen in any given election.
I must admit that the conspiracy theorist in me suspects that this is a deliberate and conscious effort on her part to steer election results toward specific candidates.
But then again, I’m probably giving her too much intellectual credit. This idiotic decision of hers already proves she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
“Spreading the Wealth”