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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Julien says dead voters and Haitian ballot brokers cost him District 107 race

22

September

 A Haitian ballot broker, known around North Miami’s Creole radio circles as “Teacher Carline,” allegedly gathered up fraudulent absentee ballots from a nursing home during the Aug. 14 primary elections, according to new court filings from Rep. John Patrick Julien, D-North Miami.

Julien filed a lawsuit earlirer this month to challenge his razor-thin loss to Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, in the Democratic primary for District 107, and has alleged absentee ballot fraud almost from the day he lost the race by 13 votes.

An explosive new complaint, filed Friday, provides more details into what Julien has called a tainted election. It alleges that several dead people cast absentee ballots from one North Miami nursing home, and Carline Paul went to another to gather up absentee ballots from people who now say they never voted in the Aug. 14 primary.

Watson’s campaign paid $1,000 to an entity owned by Paul, who ran radio ads telling Haitian Creole-speaking North Miamians to “consult” with her before casting their absentee ballots, in order to “vote correctly.”

Watson’s campaign also paid a woman named Noucelie Josna, whose business card describes her as “The Queen of Absentee Ballots.”

Watson in the past has denied any fraud in her campaign. Julien has said that Josna played a role in collecting fraudulent absentee ballots.

One nursing home described in the complaint as a fraud hotspot was called “Watercrest.” At least 10 individuals requested absentee ballots all on the same day and voted on Aug. 14 in the primary. Four of those voters were either dead or no longer stationed at the nursing home and several others said that someone else filled out their ballots they did not remember who they voted for, according to the complaint.

The Miami-Dade Elections Department did not supervise the voting, the complaint states.

At the Claridge House nursing home, six people voted by absentee ballot. Julien’s complaint states that Paul’s mother was once stationed at Claridge House, and that Paul is still a “constant presence” there.

Julien’s complaint claims that several people who cast absentee ballots on from the Claridge House say they never voted in the Aug. 14 primary.

Because of these discrepancies, Julien’s lawyer, J.C. Planas, is asking a Leon County judge to throw out all the absentee ballots from the two precincts where the nursing homes are located.

Since Julien won those precincts in Election Day voting and early voting, but lost in absentee voting, tossing out those votes would flip the razor-thin race back into Julien’s favor.

Julien and Watson, two incumbents drawn into the same district, during the once-a-decade process of redistricting, are essentially battling for ownership of the District 107 seat. The winner of the Democratic primary faces only write-in opposition in November.

Planas, who this week lost a court challenge to a Palm Beach County Senate primary race decided by only 17 votes, said said he hired investigators to look into allegations of voter fraud at the nursing homes.

“Sometimes, the cases that you think are going to be the easy ones end up being the hard ones,” he said, referring to his challenge on behalf of Rep. Mack Bernard, who lost to Rep. Jeff Clemens. “Sometimes the hard ones end up being the easy ones.”

@ToluseO

[Last modified: Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:52am]

    

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