Miami GOP Mayor Caught Trying to Suppress Voting
With the coronavirus keeping seats empty in sports stadiums and arenas around the country, the owners of many of those venues have opened them up as polling locations for the Nov. 3 election to help keep voters socially distant as they cast their ballots.
It was more than a little surprising last summer when Florida’s Miami-Dade County’s Elections Department turned down the Miami Heat’s offer to use the American Airlines Arena as a gigantic voting and elections center. It certainly raised red flags with Miami-based columnist and radio broadcast Grant Stern and today we learned why.
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) October 29, 2020
Working with the National Elections Defense Coalition (NEDC), Stern filed a public records lawsuit searching for answers and has discovered that the decision to turn down the American Airlines Arena offer occurred only after the intervention of long-time Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The GOP mayor, who has been in office for 9-1/2 years, is running as the pro-Trump Republican nominee for Florida’s 26th Congressional district against incumbent U.S. Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
Rather than accepting the professional basketball team Miami Heat’s offer Gimenez instead worked behind the scenes to have the much smaller Frost Museum of Science designated a voting location. The museum property offers only limited parking, so voters who might cast their ballot at Frost were being encouraged to park at the American Airlines Arena, which is at least a six-minute walk away.
The lawsuit alleges that the mayor conspired to suppress voting, a common Republican tactic, in violation of Miami-Dade’s County Charter Bill of Rights, which guarantees “convenient access” to the vote for all citizens.
“This is a clear attempt to suppress voter participation and bolster his own run for Congress,” said Rep. Mucarsel-Powell in a press release about the Mayor’s role in taking away the Miami Heat’s early voting location approval. “It’s a blatant abuse of power that reminds too many Miamians of the worst behavior of Donald Trump.”
The Stern/NEDC lawsuit is seeking to compel Miami-Dade’s leadership to make voting there easier and more accessible.