After hours of waiting, last voters finally vote after midnight

 

aleon@MiamiHerald.com

First-time voter Andre Murias, 18, arrived at South Kendall Community Church in Country Walk at exactly 7 p.m. Tuesday. He was the last voter in line.

Nearly five hours later, shortly before midnight, Murias finally cast his vote for President Obama. He and hundreds of others waited in a line that snaked down the church’s driveway and around the block.

“We were surprised that it went around the neighborhood,” said Murias, a student at Miami Dade College.

One poll worker, who did not want to be identified, said there were at least 1,000 people waiting to cast their ballot at the church at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the county’s polling places were supposed to have been closed.

Julian Montero, a poll watcher for the Obama campaign, monitored the line from 6 a.m. and stayed until the end with several volunteers. They ordered over 50 boxes of Domino’s Pizza and handed out water to the line-weary voters.

“I’m here trying to make sure all these voters don’t get discouraged, no matter who they’re voting for,’’said volunteer Jason Krieger.

Montero estimated about 120 people made it through the line per hour, with an average wait time of five hours.

Maggie Garcia waited in line for four hours with her preteen daughter. By the time she cast her vote for Gov. Mitt Romney, the TV networks had already called the race for Obama. No matter.

“I don’t regret waiting. It’s every four years so it’s worth it,’’ she said. “That’s why we’re here.’’

Voters at West Kendall Regional Library, meanwhile, were still in line to cast their ballots well after midnight.

One woman estimated she waited 10 hours, over three days, before she finally voted.

Alfie Fernandez waited three hours at an early voting polling place on Saturday before she had to take her daughter to an activity. She waited another two hours Tuesday morning before leaving to take care of her children while her husband went to work. Shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday, she returned to the polling place for a third time. She cast her vote after midnight.

“It’s this particular precinct,” Fernandez said. “It’s a disaster.”

She said some people left because they felt sick; one woman even fainted.

Although Fernandez knew the projected results by the time she voted, she wanted to vote for Obama.

“I felt my vote was important,” she said. “We have a history of messing up votes and I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.”

The last voter left the library at 1:08 a.m. She had waited six hours to cast her ballot. She left in a hurry and did not want to be identified.

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