Thursday, October 27, 2011

ABs reach record high in Hialeah

The voting in the Hialeah elections has reached record levels already -- five days before Election Day. But if you think the big push over the top is happening in early voting at the JFK library, think again. It's by mail -- fueled by absentee ballots.

While there have been 2,232 ballots cast at the library since early voting started Saturday, more than twice that many AB votes, for a total of 4,517, have been delivered to the elections department since Monday alone. That is about 30 percent of the total 12,354 ABs that have been returned already to the Miami-Dade elections department as of Wednesday. This election is poised to beat the 12,657 absentee votes cast in the June 28 primary in which former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina lost to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. And there are more to come. More than 20,100 absentee ballots were requested, compared to around 15,000 for the June 28 race, from Hialeah voters. That means the AB machines for the campaigns are in full force (739 ABs have been requested in this week alone).

People close to the campaign for former Mayor Raul Martinez say they believe that about 2,000 of the ABs requested are from their supporters. People close to the campaign for former State Sen. Rudy Garcia say that about 1,500 AB requests are from their supporters. Ladra is pretty sure both are giving me low figures. So let's say Martinez has 3,000 and Garcia has 2,500. That still amounts to less than half. And while it is unknown how many of those remaining would belong to su alcaldito Carlos Hernandez, his AB machine is operated by AB queen Sasha Tirador, whose crown is being exposed for the cheap Zirconia-studded Halloween prop that it has become.

So, why are the candidates hanging around the library on West 49th Street all day every day? Do they think it will have a real impact. Even if 600 people vote today, Friday and Saturday (the least day of EV), that will be a total of 4,030 votes at the library. What kind of impact can that have on an estimated low-ball of 13,000 to 14,000 ABs cast by mail?

Garcia, in particular, has put a lot of attention (read: money) into the early voting campaign. On day one, when EV opened on Saturday, Garcia had two chartered buses to bring and take back voters and a plane with a trailing message ("I heart Hialeah") overhead at noon. On Sunday, there was a pachanga at a lawyer's home across the street with food and music (which was turned down after police arrived because of a complaint). This week, Garcia unveiled a "Political Cafecito By Rudy" banner on his camp tent (in honor of some crazy blogger lady and her blog with a similar name) and on Thursday, his volunteers were joined by Miss Hialeah Michelle Aguirre, 18, who actually lives in Hialeah Gardens. Ladra is told there are more surprises in store from both Garcia and Martinez and Saturday -- the last day for early voting in this election -- promises to be a blow-out.

"That's me. Everyone knows my game is early voting," said Al Lorenzo, the top campaign advisor for Garcia, who admitted to being concerned about the AB count and possible fraud (more on that later).

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