Election official: 48 ballots found at SW Miami-Dade post office accounted for

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - All four dozen ballots found in bins and on the floor of a mail room at a U.S. Post Office ranch in Southwest Miami-Dade have been accounted for, a Miami-Dade election official said.

The mail-in ballots were captured on cellphone video that was tweeted out Friday by Florida Democratic House Leader Kionne McGhee.

The lawmaker said the concerned worker at the Post Office branch in the Princeton area, located near Southwest 250th Street and 130th Avenue, who shot the video informed him that the ballots had been “sitting for over a week.”

McGhee and other local officials held a news conference outside of the post office on Saturday. His message to those in charge of handling ballots leading up to Election Day was clear.

“Deliver every ballot, count every vote,” he said.

Officials from both sides of the aisle were upset by the findings.

Friday evening, Miami-Dade Republicans Chairman Nelson Diaz also raised concerns about the ballots.

“It’s a little disturbing to see ballots laying around unsecured, unguarded at a post office,” he said.

“What you’re seeing here today is a unified front: Republicans and Democrats, non-party affiliates, community members, community leaders, pastors, business owners,” said McGhee. “We’ve all come here to say one thing: keep the politics out of our postal service.”

The United States Postal service confirmed the validity of the video after being made aware of it on Friday. They enlisted the help of their Office of Inspector General to solve the issue.

The special agent in charge released a statement that reads in part, “Office of Inspector General special agents confirmed the presence of delayed mail and subsequently located approximately 48 pieces of election mail. The U.S. Postal Service immediately arranged for the delivery of the election mail.”

According to Miami-Dade’s assistant supervisor of elections, all 48 ballots have been accounted for. Six of them were delivered to the Elections Office on Friday, and 24 were sent back on Saturday to the voters who cast them.

Election officials said the voters who mailed the other 18 ballots had already voted with another method, by either replacement ballot or at an early voting site.

But officials remain concerned that this even happened in the first place.

“I think the Post Office should be very careful with ballots, and ballots need to be delivered as immediately as humanly possible to the Supervisor of Elections Office to avoid any appearance of impropriety or to avoid ballots just sitting there unguarded and unsecured,” said Diaz. “I think they need to be treated better than first-class mail.”

“I did find what was happening here to be disturbing, but I’m very glad that it’s being rectified very quickly,” said Steve Simeonidis, chair of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade.

Early voting in Florida ends Sunday at 7 p.m.

For more information about early voting locations in Miami-Dade, click here.

For more information about early voting locations in Broward, click here.

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