Miami attorney Jorge Luis Lopez, who sat on a charter-review committee in 2008, said he expected tens of thousands of worn out voters to “to skip or write no” on the county-charter questions, though he wasn’t willing to place all the blame on the legislators and county commissioners who created the overwhelming ballot.
“At some point someone has to tell voters to stop saying it’s so tough, and to take some responsibility,” Lopez said.
Despite the confusion, voters were on the way to passing an item that makes it easier to incorporate new cities, by requiring the signatures of only 20 percent of residents in the area, and forcing commissioners to vote on the issue. In the past, signatures of 25 percent of the residents were required, and commissioners often shelved the proposals instead of voting on them.
Voters also were supporting requiring a “super majority’’ vote of two-thirds of commissioners to approve any development outside the county’s Urban Development Boundary, the imaginary line on the county’s western edge. Though commissioners have followed that practice in the past, it was not embedded in the charter.
“I think we need a two-thirds vote of the commissioners for checks and balances,” said Lleonart, the Miami housewife.
Also in the positive column, with all the precincts reporting:
• A planned expansion and renovation of Key Biscayne’s popular Sony Open tournament facilities at the Crandon Park Tennis Center. The county would have to issue $50 million in bonds that would be paid off with tournament revenue. The question required a two-thirds vote to pass.
“My first thought is, ‘Wow!’ ” said Adam Barrett, director and senior vice president of IMG, which runs the tournament. “Any time you get over 66 percent of the vote, it’s a surprise.”
• Giving the county’s Commission on Ethics & Public Trust the authority to enforce the Citizens’ Bill of Rights.
• Technical changes to the charter, extending the time period for an election to be held from 45 to 90 days if an official leaves office, and giving the commission chairperson the authority over procurement decisions if the mayor leaves office.
A pair of nonbinding questions were also passing muster with voters. One was to increase the property tax rate to set up a Pets’ Trust, designed to keep 20,000 cats and dogs from being euthanized each year. Another would prohibit the county from hiring companies that “actively” do business with designated state sponsors of terrorism, such as Cuba.
The myriad decisions took their toll on haggard voters — like Norlyn Rubio, of Miami Lakes — who stood in long lines and had to read through a book-like ballot.
“I voted on so many things I don’t even know,” he said. “The ballot was very long and very complicated. I think they should keep it simple for the people who are not very familiar.”
Miami Herald staff writers Martha Brannigan, Howard Cohen, Lidia Dinkova, Nadege Green, Theo Karantsalis, and Jenny Staletovich contributed to this report.