We’ve been hearing all manner of reports and analysis of early voting in this election. One recent story said that early voting in Florida’s black community was low, which would be bad for Hillary Clinton. But Florida is a swing state, and another report claims that early swing state voting is going Clinton’s way. The truth (at least in general) may wind up being somewhere between the two, but there’s one group of people who the early voting is decidedly not going well for at all. Those would be the folks who were victims of voter fraud and had their absentee ballots stolen, forged and turned in by someone else. (Orlando Sentinel)

By mid-October, Susan Halperin became concerned that she and her husband hadn’t received their absentee ballots in the mail.

So Lawrence Halperin called the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office to find out what was going on. He was stunned to learn their ballots had already been cast. Someone had stolen the Halperins’ ballots, faked their signatures and voted.

“He was just floored,” said Susan Halperin, a registered Democrat. “To think that someone would actually steal my ballot and fill it out is creepy.”

The Halperins, who live in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Altamonte Springs just south of State Road 436, weren’t the only victims. Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel said they were among five voters in three homes in Spring Valley whose absentee ballots were stolen and then fraudulently submitted with votes cast by someone else.

The interviews with the victims of this scheme were both infuriating and almost charming at the same time. It should be a matter of outrage for anyone that people’s ballots are being stolen, forged and submitted. But at the same time, my jaw dropped a bit when I read that one of the victims really hoped that, “it’s just a prank, maybe some teenager.” That’s a nice thought which makes it sound more harmless than it is, but my confidence in such an explanation is understandably low. It’s true that teens get up to all sorts of pranks but this type of high risk election fraud which won’t result in a situation where they get to see their victims’ annoyance at the prank just doesn’t pass the smell test. This has the signs of deliberate tampering.

Local officials are only reporting five total instances of forged ballots, but as we discuss every single time this subject arises, we have no idea what the actual rate of voter fraud is. Did we learn of these forgeries because the police are working diligently with election officials to monitor and verify all voting activity? No, we did not. We only know about it because one couple became alarmed when they didn’t receive their ballots and contacted the county to complain. Some more checking turned up three more people with the same complaint.

What that tells me is that if they’d simply forgotten to look for their ballots in the mail and gone on vacation, we’d never have known about this. How many other people did precisely that and are unaware that their ballots are currently sitting in a room waiting to be counted with forged signatures on them? The truth is that we have no clue.

For a problem which I’m regularly assured doesn’t exist, it certainly does a good job of acting like it exists on a regular basis. Early voting leads to problems. A lack of voter ID leads to problems. And absentee ballots need to be monitored far more closely.

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