Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) has collected enough evidence of jaw-dropping systemic ballot harvesting in the Orlando area to recommend state law enforcement open a full criminal investigation. Ballot harvesting — the collection and casting of third-party ballots — can lead to fraud and is illegal in Florida.
Investigative news site Just The News obtained a statement from the Florida Department of State, confirming the OECS investigation:
“The Florida Department of State, Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) was made aware of this issue around September 1, 2022,” the department said. “After further inquiry, OECS received additional information related to the allegation on October 17, 2022, and performed a preliminary investigation.
“Since OECS is an investigative entity and does not [have] authority to make arrests, the office forwarded the complaint to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for possible violation of section 104.0616, Florida Statutes,” it added.
Just The News reports that the OECS investigation was launched after Cynthia Harris, a former candidate for Orange County Commissioner, filed a sworn affidavit with the Florida Secretary of State’s office. In her affidavit, Harris described a long-standing, systemic ballot-harvesting operation in the Orlando area’s African-American communities. On Wednesday night, Harris appeared on Just the News, No Noise to discuss the electoral exploitation of black communities that she says has been going on for years.
“So what happens is, in our community, when absentee ballots are mailed, you, the candidate, or any political party can find out when the absentee ballots are mailed and to whom. What happens is these ballot harvesters, they know which batch has gone out, they go to the door and they ask you for your absentee ballot,” said Harris. “Well, in communities that don’t look like me [aka white communities], no one does this,” noted Harris, who is black. “But in our community, it’s kind of like an accepted practice that the man is coming by to pick up my absentee ballot, or the lady is coming to pick up my absentee ballot.”
Just The News reports that Harris “even recorded a ballot broker coming to her home in 2017 to collect her ballot, and obtained the script that harvester was given by her bosses to make the pitch for a voter to turn over their ballot.” Harris, a Democrat, alleges that the entire operation is funded by progressive organizations:
[Harris] filed a sworn affidavit in late August with the Secretary of State’s office alleging that illegal operations to collect third-party ballots have been going on for years in the Orlando area where voting activists are paid $10 for each ballot they collect.
She described an intricate system funded by liberal leaning organizations that dispatch ballot brokers into black communities to pressure voters to turn over their ballots. The $10 fee per ballot is divvied up among the parties who help complete the harvesting.
There is so much more in the report from Just The News that at this point I’m just going to send you there if you want to keep reading. But suffice it to say that, in her affidavit, Harris served up plenty of what sure sounds like actionable information and evidence.
Harris had long been frustrated with the alleged underhanded system in place in her community, but her motivation to finally come forward and swear out an affidavit likely stems from her own experience with wonky ballot counting last summer. Harris ran in the primary for Orange County Commissioner and came in second place on election night, pleased to have made it to the runoff stage. But during a recount, Harris told Just The News, her tally dropped by 14 votes, and she was declared the third-place winner. Her experience parallels what Republicans across the country have been pointing to for years as evidence of the need for greater election integrity.
[UPDATE] In an email to PJ Media, the Florida Department of State confirmed the OECS complaint to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with the same statement it gave Just The News.
Watch Cynthia Harris describe her encounter with a ballot harvester in 2017 on Just the News, No Noise: