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Judge Tosses Out Miami Election

A judge on Wednesday ruled that the city of Miami must hold a new mayoral election after a civil trial that claimed the Nov. 4 election was rife with absentee voter fraud.

Xavier Suarez ousted Mayor Joe Carollo in a runoff after denying Carollo an outright victory by winning the absentee vote by a 2-1 margin.

"The evidence shows a pattern of fraudulent, intentional and criminal conduct that resulted in such an extensive abuse of the absentee ballot laws that it can fairly be said that the intent of these laws was totally frustrated," said the ruling by Circuit Judge Thomas S. Wilson Jr.

"In the Nov. 4, 1997, election, the value of every honest vote was greatly diminished or devalued by this fraud," the judge wrote.

Wilson issued the ruling a week after hearing closing arguments in the trial of a civil lawsuit filed by Carollo, a 42-year-old businessman. Corollo asked that he be given back his old job by throwing out about 5,000 absentee votes in the general election. Wilson presided over the nonjury trial that ran 2 1/2 weeks.

Carollo's attorneys maintained during the trial that the general election was stolen by widespread absentee ballot fraud and noted Carollo would have won a majority based on the machine vote.

During the trial, Wilson asked Miami-Dade County elections supervisor David Leahy how long it would take to schedule a new election and was told about 60 days.

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