Republican Party canvassers tricked more than 100 South Florida voters — many of them elderly and/or immigrants — into switching their party affiliation to the GOP last year, according to a bombshell investigative report published Friday by the Miami Herald.
The newspaper sent a team of reporters to eight low-income housing projects in Hialeah and Little Havana, where voter registration data showed unusually high numbers of switching from one party to another.
"The reporters knocked on every door where someone’s party affiliation had changed," according to the Herald. "Four out of every five voters who spoke to the Herald — 141 in total — said that their party affiliation had been changed without their knowledge. In all but six cases, records show they were registered as Republicans by canvassers from the Republican Party of Florida."
The average age of the residents was 76, and many of them were first-generation immigrants from Cuba or Latin American countries, the newspaper reported. One election attorney called it "elder abuse."
"Many described being misled by canvassers who said they needed a new voter ID card, to update their addresses or to verify their signatures," the Herald reported.
Some victims have reportedly given statements to the State Attorney's Office in Miami as part of a criminal investigation of voter fraud. Submitting false registration information is a third-degree felony.
One former Republican strategist who has since left the party said he believes the GOP may have switched the registrations "to reinforce the idea that South Florida’s Hispanic voters were fleeing the Democratic Party." Many of the voters live in a state Senate district that was won by a Republican by 32 votes, and was also at the center of a "ghost candidate" scheme.
Former Florida GOP Congressman David Jolly, who has since left the party, called on Gov. Ron DeSantis — who wants to create a special police force to oversee elections — to launch an investigation.
“For a governor who believes election integrity is a major problem, there is no greater opportunity to prove that than to come down on the Republicans in South Florida who appear to have done this,” Jolly said. “If Ron DeSantis is serious about voter fraud in the state of Florida, he’d be the leading voice on this."
"What occurred, based on your findings, is one of the two major parties in Florida switched voter registrations to benefit itself in an election, regardless of how far up in the party hierarchy that knowledge went,” Jolly told the newspaper. “That is graft. That is fraud.”
DeSantis office declined to comment on the results of the newspaper's investigation.