Here we go again. If there’s a municipal election in Orlando with Buddy Dyer as Mayor and his city clerk running the show, you better believe there will be absentee ballot harvesting happening.
This year’s election is no different in District 5, where incumbent City Commissioner Regina Hill’s campaign has been recorded on video trying to harvest absentee ballots from concerned voters. Dyer has endorsed Hill for re-election.
In the video, first sent exclusively to West Orlando News by the trusted source, a campaign staffer wearing a re-elect Regina Hill for City Commissioner t-shirt does not even identify herself before asking to collect the household’s absentee ballot. The staffer checks a printed list on a clipboard before confirming to the resident that their absentee ballot should have arrived by now and she was here to collect it. It is clear from the 80-second interaction, the campaign staffer was there for the sole reason of collecting the absentee ballot.
“We’re coming back to pick it up,” the woman wearing a Re-Elect Regina Hill t-shirt says. The staffer adds “last time we were here she said it hadn’t come yet,” and then confirms she is looking for the absentee ballot. “No, it’s absentee ballots that we pick up,” she says. Click here to see the entire video.
Luckily, this voter knew better than to give any ballot to someone making money off collecting votes. The voter quickly asks “who are you working for” before the conversation begins to end. The voter confirms their household will mail in the absentee ballot, not hand it over to someone wearing the incumbent City Commissioner’s campaign t-shirt.
Hill’s major campaign expenses are listed as payments to “GOTV Consutling,” however the address listed is a personal residence where known absentee ballot broker Sandra Lewis is registered to vote. The expense is for “canvassers.” She also lists consulting fees paid directly to Sandra Lewis by name. Lewis was named directly in election fraud complaints since 2012 but her operation has not yet been investigated.
Due to horribly low voter turnout, Orlando’s municipal elections are decided by absentee ballots, hence why Dyer and other incumbents have sought pay-for-votes schemes regarding absentee ballots. Based on the returns so far, it appears absentee ballots will also decide the District 5 race this year.
West Orlando News has confirmed that an official complaint for absentee ballot fraud in the current Orlando municipal election as well as a call for a full investigation into the harvesting of votes will be filed with State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s office. 10 days ago, a separate complaint was filed against Regina Hill alleging malfeasance and official misconduct. This could be the year where action is finally taken as it may become too hard for the State Attorney to look the other way without some kind of investigation.
All of this is connected to similar allegations that led to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer being indicted in 2005 for absentee ballot fraud after his first election. Dyer – and others – have never stopped their election tricks and pay-for-votes schemes, and a major Orlando Election Complaint was filed after the 2012 elections against Mayor Dyer and absentee ballot brokers including Sandra Lewis and her team (read the full 2012 complaint and review all evidence here). At the time of the previous investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Alphonso Williams refused to question City Clerk Alana Brenner, Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, or others involved despite hundreds of pages of evidence in that case. Sandra Lewis and Ezzie Thomas even blatantly lied directly to FDLE investigators and Agent Williams in 2013 during an investigation, however, FDLE simply looked the other way.
Because of Agent William’s failure to investigate and the influence of Dyer’s relationship with FDLE, the integrity of Orlando’s municipal elections remains in jeopardy. Voters continue to be targeted for pay-for-vote schemes. Dyer also continues to manipulate Orlando municipal elections by signing a contract with Supervisor of Elections Cowles unlike any other municipal election agreement in the state. There is no check on Orlando’s elections, just total control by Dyer’s City Hall.
In 2014, Temia Brinson filed another election fraud complaint directly named Sandra Lewis and her team for efforts to collect absentee ballot votes for candidates who pay her to collect votes. Again nothing was done. No investigation.
Additional statements from voters in this year’s election are currently being taken and will be brought to the State Attorney’s office as well. Many Orlando voters have become aware after year’s of advocacy trying to expose this absentee ballot behavior and voters are seemingly more prepared to fight back – including this video of the act caught on camera.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala should do what others before her never had the political courage to do. It’s time to fully investigate Orlando’s absentee ballot broker operations and shut them down once and for all.
RELATED: See Video of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill’s Bizarre Behavior Caught on Video