At the Church of Christ in Goulds, a predominantly African-American neighborhood in South Miami-Dade, where about 30 people were still in line after 10 p.m., Loyrette Altamirano said that the four-hour wait hadn’t been too bad.
“People have been cracking jokes all night,’’ Altamirano said. “It has been nice. No incidents.’’
Not every precinct had problems. With more than a third of voters turning out early or voting by mail, it was a quick in-and-out for many. Carmen Mendez had only a couple of people in front of her in line when she went to vote at the West Kendall Regional Library on Tuesday afternoon.
“It went smooth, we had seven or eight people in front of us,” said Mendez, 48.
Delays also were hardly unique to Miami-Dade.
At the Walnut Creek Community Association in Pembroke Pines, voters waited in line for up to four hours as the polling place ran out of ballots — until a fresh stock arrived shortly after 6 p.m. Broward County reported shortages in Davie, Coral Springs and in other areas.
“It’s a travesty,” said Linda Garvia, 43, of Pembroke Pines. “It’s hindering people from their right to vote.”
At J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, a two-hour wait was the norm, and 50 voters were still in line at 8 p.m. — all waiting to send their already-completed ballots through the single scanner. “It’s crazy — two hours,” said John Haagensen, 29. “It should be like 20, 30 minutes.”
There were many other, mostly minor, complaints about malfunctioning optical scanners, or precincts that had too few scanners or voting booths, which added to waits. There also was confusion about precinct locations in some areas.
At the North Shore Branch Library in Miami Beach, Jason Altman, 37, showed up at 8:30 a.m. and learned at 10:40 a.m. that he was at the wrong station. It took another 20 minutes for precinct workers to figure out the correct location.
The Miami Beach plastic surgeon, originally from New York, said he was “told to go to the youth center on 72nd Street.” He gave up and headed back to see patients.
Other parts of the state also reported long lines and other goofs, most notably in Pinellas County. Elections officials said more than 12,000 people were wrongly telephoned on Tuesday morning with a message that they had until 7 p.m. “tomorrow” to turn in absentee ballots.
Here’s what happened, according to Nancy Whitlock, a spokeswoman for supervisor Deb Clark: Pinellas officials used an Internet phone system, called CallFire.com, to record messages reminding people of the deadline to turn in mail-in ballots.
On Monday, officials sent out a reminder to 27,917 people saying ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. “tomorrow” — or Tuesday. But for reasons unknown, 12,525 of those calls wound up in a queue and were not placed until between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. By then, “tomorrow,” referred incorrectly to Wednesday.
Miami Herald staff writers Andrea Torres, Patricia Mazzei, Alexandra Leon, Douglas Hanks, Lidia Dinkova, Jenny Staletovich, Carol Rosenberg, Christian Veiga, Laura Isensee, Heidi Carr, Nadege Green, Anna Edgerton, Martha Brannigan, Sam Jacobs, Sabrina Rodriguez, Ana Veciana, Carli Teproff, Anthony Cave, David Smiley, Paradise Afshar, Amy Sherman, Michael Vasquez, Jessica De Leon, Frances Robles and Elizabeth deArmas contributed to this story.