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Florida says no evidence of fraud in 2018 mail vote fraud probe

“It is closed now, so prosecutors have determined no charges,” Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman for FDLE, wrote in an email Wednesday.

TALLAHASSEE — State law-enforcement officials found “no evidence of fraudulent intent” by the Florida Democratic Party after more than a year-long investigation into alleged vote-by-mail fraud, records show.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday released records tied to an investigation into Democratic Party members altering election forms at the tail end of the 2018 election cycle, which was dominated by three statewide recounts.

Investigators found “no evidence of fraudulent intent to use the altered forms” on April 20 and handed the case over to the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution to determine if there was enough evidence and information to file charges.

“It is closed now, so prosecutors have determined no charges,” Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman for FDLE, wrote in an email Wednesday.

Florida Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox said Wednesday there was a “lack of sufficient evidence to support prosecution” in the case.

The voter fraud complaints against Democrats came at the end of the 2018 elections as counties completed required recounts in the races for governor, U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner.

Investigators found that three people associated with the Florida Democratic Party changed the submission deadline dates in an election form, known as a “cure affidavit,” which is designed to fix signature problems on vote-by-mail ballots.

The investigation found the people “had no intent of circulating” the altered cure affidavits until there was a favorable court ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida and former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson, who narrowly lost the Senate race to Republican Rick Scott, wanted the Florida Department of State and people under its supervision to count any vote-by-mail or provisional ballots rejected based on signature matching, records show.

“Per the FDP [Florida Democratic Party] information, the deadline date in the vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavits were altered in anticipation that the USDC [U.S. District Court] would rule in their favor, and they could immediately act to contact affected voters,” the investigation found.

The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal and state authorities to review for possible election fraud, as the recounts prompted thousands of votes to face additional scrutiny.

The forms were modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline to fix signature problems on ballots, according to state law enforcement officials. The unaltered affidavits instructed voters to meet a Nov. 5 deadline.

But Jennifer Kim, the party’s Central Florida deputy field director, instructed party volunteers on Nov. 8 to “only use the unaltered.original version of the vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavit,” the investigation found.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled on Nov. 15 that voters would have until Nov. 17 to correct signatures on their ballots.

Investigators also said that “no tangible or pecuniary benefit was identified for any of the volunteers/FDP members pertaining to the early dissemination of the altered form.”

Investigators also noted that, according to the party, “it was not certain whether top Democratic officials were aware that the vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavits were altered and/or instructed them to be altered.”

As part of the investigation, which started in November 2018, FDLE conducted sworn interviews and reviewed documentation provided by the Department of State, which reported “irregularities” in the vote-by-mail process during the elections.

After the case was reported to authorities, the Democratic Party hired an investigator to conduct an internal investigation into the voter fraud allegations.

“It should also be noted that the FDP declined to provide OEI (the Office of Executive Investigations at FDLE) inspectors with a copy of their completed investigation and findings,” the report said.

But FDLE noted in its report that the Democratic Party also identified Madalyn Blackburn, Adrienne Bogen and Kim as “responsible for altering the vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavits through their investigation.”

Alex Morash, a party spokesman, on Wednesday did not immediately respond to questions about why the party’s internal investigation was not turned over to law enforcement. But in a prepared statement, he said “the Florida Department of Law Enforcement got this right.”

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