Miami-Dade County

Irma no obstacle to election. Early voting starts Saturday for two Miami-Dade races.

Early voting begins Saturday at three Miami-Dade libraries for the House District 116 race and the Senate District 40 race.
Early voting begins Saturday at three Miami-Dade libraries for the House District 116 race and the Senate District 40 race. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Gov. Rick Scott has rejected a Democratic Party of Florida request to postpone for two weeks the Sept. 26 special election in Senate District 40, saying Miami-Dade County officials are ready to move forward with early voting on Saturday despite the disruption from the storm.

“Elections headquarters is fine and with power. Staff was back to work yesterday. The post office was operational as of yesterday, so ballots are coming in/out,” Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Christina White wrote in an email to the Florida Department of State on Wednesday. “I confirmed that all three early voting sites are fine and have power. It starts Saturday.”

In a letter to Scott, a Republican, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel urged the governor to postpone the election between Democrat Annette Taddeo and Republican former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz for two weeks until power is fully restored and people can get their lives back together.

The special election was called to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, who resigned earlier this year. A special election to replace Diaz in House District 116, between Republican Daniel Perez and Democrat Gabriela Mayaudón, will also occur on Sept. 26.

“The southern portions of Miami-Dade County are among the hardest hit parts of our state with a great percentage of our homes without power,” Bittel wrote. “Amidst this backdrop of personal and property loss, opening early voting polls for the Senate District 40 special elections would be inappropriate. Our community is focused on rebuilding and recovery, not voting.”

Scott spokesperson McKinley Lewis said that in light of White’s recommendation to move forward with the election as scheduled, “we will accept her guidance.”

Registered voters can go to one of three early voting sites — the Coral Reef, Kendale Lakes and West Regional libraries — all week to cast their ballot.

White said they are assessing damage to polling sites and “there is no major damage to our knowledge. And it’s helpful to know that power will be restored countywide by Sunday and schools open Monday.”

Twenty-five years ago, when Hurricane Andrew ripped up South Florida, voting for a statewide primary election was delayed one week in Miami-Dade because of heavy damage to 100 polling places throughout the county. The U.S. Army set up 65 polling places in tents, but turnout was exceptionally low.

Early voting is available Sept. 16-24 at three Miami-Dade locations from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays:

Coral Reef Branch Library

9211 SW 152nd Street

Miami, FL 33157

Kendale Lakes Branch Library

15205 SW 88th Street

Miami, FL 33196

West Dade Regional Library

9445 SW 24th Street

Miami, FL 33165

Source: Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections

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