Pol’s Lonely Battle For More Mail Voting




Sometimes it seems that Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo can’t get a break.


angelo castilloAngelo Castillo


For years, Castillo has promoted the expansion of voting by mail.

Is anybody listening?

Apparently not in Tallahassee, where the idea has gone nowhere.

Another 60-day session of Florida’s Legislature starts next week and its about time somebody paid attention to encouraging more voting by mail.

Here are the facts:

Conducting elections exclusively by mail costs less money. No poll watcher training and salaries. No expense to move thousands of machines to polling places.

Pembroke Pines spent $226,523 for a city election in just two districts last year. The bulk of that money would have been saved if the election was conducted by mail.

In addition, many voters love the idea of voting by mail.

It’s convenient. It’s easy.

An increasing number of Florida voters are casting ballots by mail since the Legislature made it easier to vote absentee in the last decade.

In 2012, almost 30 million voters nationwide, better than half of those voting, cast ballots by mail, according to statistics cited by the City of Pembroke Pines.

In 2014, most states allowing widespread voting by mail had a higher turnout.

Colorado had a 53 percent turnout and Oregon had 52 percent, while Florida had a 43.1 percent turnout and the national average was 36.3 percent, the New York Times reported.

(Turnout motivation is hard to gauge, however.

Many factors influence turnout other than the method of voting, including the intensity of the issues, the combativeness of the race and the money spent.

Colorado had a hot 2014 U. S. Senate race and votes by mail.  That state did better than Florida, which also had a hot governor’s race. Was the reason that Colorado votes by mail?  Without a study taking into account all the variables, voting by mail can not accurately be credited with the higher turnout. 

Scientific studies have differed on the effect of voting by mail on turnout.)

Currently, Florida allows only referendums in a special elections to be conducted by mail. Any election where candidates are on the ballot must be held the old way – with voting booths. The existing law can be seen here. 

Castillo would expand voting by mail to all elections.

He would leave only a handful of large polling places open – like what occurs during early voting – to accommodate those who wish to vote in person. The rest would be encouraged to vote by mail.

“Vote by mail will increase the number of Floridians voting while reducing elections costs. There can be no better example of a good government best practice. Therefore, on behalf of Florida’s 10th largest city, we in Pembroke Pines call upon you to direct the Secretary of State to begin a serious inquiry into the prospect of bringing Vote by Mail to Florida as our official voting method,” Castillo wrote Gov. Rick Scott on Feb. 2.

Included with his two-page letter was a Pembroke Pines City Commission resolution asking that the city be a pilot city to test the effectiveness of expanded voting by mail.

Scott hasn’t answered.

Okay, Scott may not be interested. What about our local legislators?

There is no doubt voting by mail saves money. Isn’t saving money a Republican and Democratic goal?

I’m not holding my breath…and neither is Castillo.

But Angelo promises to keep fighting.



22 Responses to “Pol’s Lonely Battle For More Mail Voting”

  1. fraud says:

    I would support this if it was criminal to posses somebody other than your own (or spouse) ballot

  2. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Can you say “election fraud on a mass scale?”

    Colorado is not my idea of a role model.

  3. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Here’a a link to a video interview I gave on vote by mail and the willingness of Pembroke Pines to be pilot city for a statewide vote by mail initiative.



  4. simple yet complicated says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Somehow this county makes voting by mail far more complicated than necessary. No prepaid postage or information on how much it costs to mail the huge ballot that does not count unless its sleeved and signed exactly as your signature appears in the records….phew! Why can’t it be smaller, easier and prepaid?

  5. just one vote says:

    the entire state of Oregon votes by mail in every election
    I understand they are Pro-Dem/liberals out there (very very few repubs)

    if it works for them why not here?
    because the politicos in power know how few turn out when we continue the status quo?

  6. S O E Insider says:


    Is Angelo contemplating a third employment position at the public trough? Filling the pumps of Dr Snipes maybe?


    Actually, Angelo wrote me about this subject in January:

    “People keep asking me to consider SOE, but I’ve never visualized myself in that role. I’m being asked to keep my mind open about it…”

    I believe Angelo would be a good candidate for supervisor. He has a great resume in government. Whether he wants to run for an office that has to beg the County Commission for money every year is up to him. We will see.

  7. Jim Miller says:

    Can Charlotte Greenbarg point to election fraud issues in Colorado or is she just doing the usual-spouting useless drivel for the uninformed to lap up?

  8. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    To Soe Insider:

    If I had my choice between being elected SOE or having vote by mail statewide, I’d choose vote by mail statewide. This is not an office I have ever considered running for. In fact, I’d much prefer to see the County Commission properly fund Dr. Snipes and see her increase vote by mail efforts and other strategies to increase voter turnout.

    To Charlotte Greenbarg:

    Vote by mail carries no significant voter fraud threats in the states where it has operated for a very long time. Nor do absentee ballots currently present a significant fraud risk. These systems, when properly managed are safe and reliable.

    If Floridians wants to get more people voting, safely and reliably, at a huge cost savings to taxpayers, Vote by Mail gets all those things done. Guaranteed.


  9. Talks like a politician says:

    @SOE Insider
    Dania Beach insiders are whispering about Anne Castro as the next SOE. Any thoughts?

  10. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    No wonder Angelo’a intention(voting by mail) is going nowhere. It has fraud written all over it. Say you move and your ballot goes to that address and some bozo uses your ballot and votes(see what i mean). There is no checks and balances to verify if the person who the ballot is intended for actualy receives it(ballot) and or any verifiaction that indeed its the rightful person voting. Absentte ballots is different, in that you requested it. So the. Super. of Elections(Neferdidi-herself) has a record of it. Now to whoever is contacted me on a#67 # ,restricted line, block calls(something I never do-if I call you ,you will know it). I am going to get a court order and then take that court order to my cell carrier, which w/in 24hrs. will de-scramble that block call. Then I will go to the SAO and press charges. Have your fun. Also thoughs that are out on bond, consider your bond revoked. Sick people out there. I can beat anyone of them(are you listening GRIFTERS)…..


    Remember that roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the voters in elections today vote absentee, i.e., by mail.

  11. Richard J Kaplan says:

    I agree with Angelo. To me voting by mail will be far more convenient, less expensive and result in a higher voter turnout. Add to that early voting centers and those that would want to vote will be able to do so.

    As far as fraud goes, since we already allow very liberal absentee voting, I don’t see that there would be a difference in giving everyone a vote by mail ballot.

    Since the legislature has its own reasons they wouldn’t want it, maybe they should allow local governments the authority to do it when their elections do not coincide to a federal or state election? You could even add, if allowed by a referendum vote of their residents.

    In the meantime the people will determine how they vote, and as absentee and early voting increases, while day of election turnout decreases, the eventual result will be revealing. Someday this may become a moot point.

    Note: It would also improve the ability to vote if people could drop off their absentee ballots at one of the early voting centers rather than mailing them in or having to go to one of the two centers that will accept them.

  12. Mike T says:

    The reason why incumbents want voting by mail is because incumbents tend to raise more money. More money equals more mailers. The more voting by mail becomes popular, the bigger the advantage for the incumbents and wealthy in every election. I guess so much for the idea of having a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

  13. Chaz Stevens, I am Festivus says:

    >> Now to whoever is contacted me on a#67 # ,restricted line, block calls(something I never do-if I call you ,you will know it). I am going to get a court order and then take that court order to my cell carrier, which w/in 24hrs. will de-scramble that block call.

    Helpful hint: Stand at least three feet from a in-use microwave while wearing a tin-foil hat.

  14. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Many voters already use mail-in absentee ballots; those voters who WANT to vote by mail can already do that. Castillo’s argument is that those voters who choose NOT to vote by mail should have that choice taken away.

    Why do voters choose not to vote by mail? One reason is that in-person voting generates reasonable certainty that one’s vote will be counted. Signature matching is done in the presence of the voter, and if it fails the voter can take action immediately. With a mailed ballot, one’s vote can be invalidated without notice or recourse.

    Here are some arguments against VBM:


    * Absentee ballots are not “secret ballots.”

    * The cost of running an all mail voting system can actually be greater than a poll based voting system.

    * The Signature Verification Process is error prone and routinely disenfranchises thousands of voters when it is used. Ballots rejected for having invalid signatures are treated as “Guilty before proven innocent.”

    * Voter Suppression, Vote Buying, Vote Stuffing become far easier in this system.

    * Accidental double voting can and does happen.

    * Some studies show a short term spike, but long term decline in voter participation, in 100% absentee systems. Claims that Vote-By Mail will increase turnout have no real evidence supporting this assertion.

    * The post office loses mail or just misplaces it for years, the county loses ballots, and people lose their own ballots.

  15. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Robert Walsh,

    If a ballot is mailed to your home. And then you move. And the new tenant received your ballot. Three things immediately emerge from that fact pattern:

    First, you failed to call the SOE and have your new address recorded. You really should do that and typically that is something that super voters will do. Vote by Mail encourages more people to become super voters. It’s a big part of why the system is superior to what we do in Florida.

    Second, a proper Vote by Mail election system will only record one vote per voter under any circumstance. And if the real voter shows up, they will potentially have evidence of fraud against the new tenant. And every case of voter fraud should be prosecuted to the hilt in a very well advertised way.

    Third, the new tenant will unlikely be capable of reproducing your signature to the satisfaction of trained SOE employees or signature software. This presupposes of course that SOE employees are trained and that such systems exist, I’m told we hae that in Broward. Any variance in signature found should be sent to the state attorney because it’s potentially a crime.

    Currently, we have absentee balloting going on in large numbers both in Florida and in Broward. The prospect you raise has not arisen to my knowledge, and if it has, the frequency of it has not been alarming. Vote by Mail is not a system that, when implemented and managed correctly (there are best practices in the US that Florida should emulate), creates undue levels of fraud, or even detectable or statistically significant levels of fraud. High levels of fraud are simply not associated with vote by mail systems.

    Governmentally it is much more important to focus on the upside of the system — which guarantees more people will vote at a fraction of the cost we spend now on elections.

    More voting, less cost, very safe.

    There’s no better election system known and that’s why League of Women Voters endorses Vote by Mail as a system.

    It’s not that the problems we face can’t be solved. They can. It’s that too often, we simply lack the willingness and courage to solve them.



  16. Angelo Fan says:

    Commissioner Castillo is one of the best political minds in South Florida. It’s a shame that he wasn’t elected County Commissioner in 2010. As a Pines resident outside of his district, I sincerely hope that he’ll run for Mayor in the next few years.

    He’s well suited for a larger role in Broward. Maybe he’ll be the next DEC Chair in 2016.

  17. S O E Insider says:


    When you file for your 3rd position will you strut in wearing 5 1/4 inch stiletto heels 1 inch platforms to the event?


    Are you implying that this is the genesis of mikkies carpal tunnel syndrome and writers cramp? Or converting an absentee 7-10 split?


    Annjello has it in the bag, others need not apply.

  18. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Nothing preventing Dr. Snipes for pre-paying postage for absentee ballots like Miami Dade Does. She officially accepts anything that arrives at the post office anyway. Pre-paid postage is much cheaper than training people for one election day. Regarding voter fraud, very little fraud is occurring, if large scale fraud were occurring, people would be being turned away in early voting and on election day unable to vote since someone already voted on their behalf. I did hear of major instances. If you look at the state wide data, even with all the easy opportunities where people were given more than one voter registration, people only voted once.

  19. Floridan says:

    Agree with Angelo — especially with the option of having some “walk in” polling places available.

  20. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Vote by Mail purists would cringe to hear me suggest that some voting locations remain open on election day. But to preserve choice, I think doing that is important. Frankly, there’s enough money to be saved without taking choices away from voters.

    So yes, I would recommend keeping the large voting locations open on election day. Regional Libraries, possibly a city hall or two should suffice. Every registered voter should get an absentee ballot in the mail which they can use as well. If they vote by mail, the signed, completed ballot must be postmarked in time for delivery and counting before 7 pm on Election Day.

    Without question, vote by mail would generate more votes cast at a much lower cost to society, and no significant risk of fraud. Every one of those claims has been proven true through actual experience right here in the United States.

    Big question is will Governor Scott do it? Will the Legislature back him if he does? If they say no there can be only two possible reasons. One is it makes too much sense. The second reason is they don’t want more people voting.

    Am waiting to hear, when I do you will, and I hope the answer will be yes or that they will explore it. If they say no or fail to respond altogether, you can count on one or both of the reasons above as why.


  21. WELL SAID says:

    Comm. Castillo has again taught the uneducated masses using his uncanny ability to take very complex subject matter and dumb it down so it can be easily understood.

    Next, the Commissioner will teach us all how to play the violin and then, after lunch, open heart surgical techniques will be simply explained.

  22. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    To 21:

    Thank you, howevr you profoundly overestimate my abilities. I cannot play the violin.