The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Tuesday’s Election Day in Florida.
Registered voters must go to their assigned precincts and must bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license or U.S. Passport to cast a ballot.
Voters will select a governor between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, and a U.S. senator between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott. They will also elect someone to the U.S. House of Representatives, as all 435 U.S. congressional representatives are up for re-election. (One-third of the U.S. Senate is.)
Voters will also vote on state legislative races and 12 Florida constitutional amendments and various ballot questions and local races across Miami-Dade. There are also many local races and ballot questions in Broward County.
Your photo ID will only be used to confirm your identity and to make sure the signature matches what’s in the voter system, according to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections. Your ID will not be used to compare the information to your voter ID number or address.
If you do not have a valid ID, or if you’re not in the voting system, do not leave the polling place. Ask an elections worker to call the elections office to see if you can vote using a provisional ballot.
When you vote, be sure to completely fill in the oval next to your selection.
Individuals may also report voter intimidation by calling the Election Protection hotline, filing voting complaints with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by calling 800-253-3931, emailing email@example.com, or submitting an online form.
‘A SMORGASBORD OF PROBLEMS’ IN NORTH MIAMI
7:01 p.m.: Two days after voting systems malfunctioned at the North Miami library, causing hour-long delays for early voters, many Tuesday voters in this heavily black neighborhood were themselves frustrated as they learned the library was not their proper voting location.
Irwin Braddy, a Miami-Dade employee assigned to monitor the location, estimated that just 235 people had been able to vote here —less than half of those who attempted to do so.
Braddy explained that many voters had voted at the library during the primary, and so assumed they would be able to vote here again. Others had simply followed family or friends to this location, only to find out it was not their proper precinct. And it seemed to him volunteer poll workers were not providing adequate explanations of what to do next for those who found themselves in the wrong place.
“It’s been a smorgasbord of problems,” he said.
One county worker who did not wish to be identified estimated it was more likely that up to 70 percent of voters had been turned away for being in the wrong precinct. She guessed that 10 percent would give up, with the rest finding ways to get to their proper precinct.
But at two nearby churches identified by the county as polling places, there was little to no activity. At the Shalom Community Church, a tiny trickle of voters could be seen leaving the poll as 7 p.m. neared. And a Miami Herald reporter could find no evidence that a polling place had even been set up at First Church of North Miami, identified in county records as a voting site. Update: First Church of North Miami was an active polling site throughout the day, but signs had begun to be removed by about 6:45 p.m.
— ROB WILE
GILLUM FANS HOPE TO ‘BRING IT HOME’
6:46 p.m.: Andrew Gillum, in a call back to his college days, is holding his election night watch party outside at Florida A&M University, where organizers had set up fencing throughout the quad. A stage, set up outside Lee Hall, was bathed in blue spotlights.
More than 5,000 RSVP’d to the event, according to the campaign, though it was unclear as the sun set and rain started falling, how many would show up.
Taking shelter from the rain under an umbrella outside a student dining hall,Vince Williams, 21, a FAMU senior, said he would reassess whether or not to stay after his evening class wrapped up at 8 p.m.
The weather, he added, would “show who really supports him.”
While Democrats spent the final weeks of the race optimistically hoping for a blue wave, a different kind of deluge struck before the event opened to supporters Tuesday evening.
Shortly after 6 p.m., a press tent that had been set up for reporters began to leak, then pour, through the seams, causing members of the media to scramble for their equipment. They were ushered into a dining hall commons with a Chick-fil-A, where some supporters began to strike up a chant of “bring it home, bring it home.”
— ELIZABETH KOH
SMOOTH SAILING AT WEST GROVE POLLS
6:42 p.m.: At Elizabeth Virrick Park in West Coconut Grove, turnout was robust and voters encountered no glitches, said polling place inspector Ashley Andrews.
Debra Brown, who has lived all her 62 years in the Grove, said her neighbors came out in force. Most, like her, supported the Democrats.
“They did their research and their reading and took this midterm seriously,” she said. “The future really depends on this election. It’s a critical time, in more ways than one.”
Omar Rahny, 35, voted with his mother, and said it was crucial for them to cast their ballots for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
“We are very motivated and wanted to let our voices be heard because there is important stuff on this ballot,” he said. “Gillum supports the improvement of the educational system. Teacher wages must be high on the list of priorities.”
— LINDA ROBERTSON
BROWARD VOTERS NOT DENIED
6:17 p.m.: Reports of voters being denied access into polling places in Broward gated communities are not true, said Fred Bellis, an elections spokesman.
“It’s fine,” Bellis said, adding that voters are “flowing” in and “a few people made up stories.”
Miami Herald news partner WLRN-91.3 FM reported that at least two voters in Broward complained about being hassled trying to get into polling places inside the Le Club Century Village in Deerfield Beach.
One voter, Katherine Polizzi, said private security guards demanded her ID to get into the complex. Another voter at the same place tweeted out: “I wouldn’t show them ID and they held me at the gate and blamed me for holding the line.”
— DAVID OVALLE
BLUE AND RED IN CORAL GABLES
5:58 p.m.: Andrea Canaves left her job as an architect early on Tuesday to beat the post-work voting rush at Coral Gables High School.
“I’m glad I did my research on the ballot because it was very long and complicated, especially if English is not your first language. It’s like lawyer talk,” she said. “They need to make ballot questions more straightforward and easier to understand rather than making it difficult for the voter.”
Canaves, a Democrat, voted for Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate, Andrew Gillum for governor and Donna Shalala for the U.S. House of Representatives in the key races.
“Rick Scott — I don’t like that guy and his attempts to ignore climate change. So we really don’t want him in the Senate doing more damage,” she said. “As for Donna, I’m all about female empowerment.”
Canaves also supports restoration of voting rights for felons in Florida and pay raises for teachers.
“Everybody should have a vote,” she said. “Teachers shape so many lives and deserve to be paid much better for such an important job.”
Maggie Bernal, a Coral Gables resident and office manager, voted a straight Republican ticket despite some misgivings. “I like what Gillum is saying but I don’t know if he or [Ron] DeSantis is telling the truth because I find both of them tricky,” she said.
She supported Maria Elvira Salazar over Donna Shalala in the District 27 race. “The other lady is from the University of Miami and I know she is a nice person but I decided to stick with the Republicans,” Bernal said. “I voted for the president in 2016. My husband didn’t. I don’t really like Trump but I wanted change, someone different. So again I’m giving the Republican candidates my vote for change.”
— LINDA ROBERTSON
A STEM CELL VOTER
5:43 p.m.: Jack Camoratto, a 21-year-old New Jersey native and a senior at the University of Miami, is a registered Republican. In his first election, though, he voted for Democratic senatorial candidate Bill Nelson.
As a biomedical engineer major with a focus on stem-cell technology, his decision “came easy.”
“The fact that Rick Scott opposes embryonic stem-cell research shows that he is too loyal to his party and is not willing to step away and represent independent, factual, unbiased values,” he said.
Camoratto voted for Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, for governor but returned to his Republican roots to vote for Maria Elvira Salazar for Congressional District 27. Salazar is running against Donna Shalala, the former UM president.
“That vote was less because I am a big fan of Salazar and more because I am a big fan of a bipartisan government.’‘ he said. “I had voted for a Democrat for governor and a Democrat for senate already, and thought it would be a good idea to add some red to my ballot.”
“Additionally,” he said, “I did not want to vote for Donna Shalala given her history of scandals during her time at UM and more importantly her role as former head of the Clinton Foundation.”
Meanwhile, UM freshman Landon Coles, a Tallahassee native, voted for Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor running against Republican Ron DeSantis.
“It’s inspiring to see him breaking through all the barriers and walls and ceilings that life has set for him. And now he’s on to becoming Florida’s first black governor,” said Coles, who is African American.
One issue that Coles is expecting Gillum to focus on is criminal justice reform. “Currently, our system is essentially one of modern-day oppression that disproportionally affects persons of color.”
— VERONIKA SEIDER
HOT TIME FOR FIRST-TIME VOTER
5:20 p.m.: Alex Lapitis, a 21-year-old microbiology student at the University of Miami, voted for the first time in Tuesday’s election.
“I wanted to vote last time, but I didn’t know how to register to vote,” he said. “No one told me and I just got really confused.”
This time, social media helped guide Lapitis as a voter. “There were a lot of different websites that listed all the different amendments, so as a young voter that might not be as aware of issues, it definitely bullet-pointed and made it easy for me to understand the political wording of all the amendments,” he said.
Despite being prepared, he encountered a bit of commotion at the Watsco Center, the polling place on UM’s campus in Coral Gables.
“A lot of people were complaining about the heat, because they had to wait outside and it was really hot,” he said. “I actually got distracted during my ballot because some old lady was yelling at the people in charge of the voting because it was too hot outside and they didn’t want to wait.”
— COREY VIKSER
PUSHING BACK ON ‘PINK INCLINATIONS’
5:20 P.M.: Retiree María Elena Alvarez voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in previous elections, but the South Beach resident switched party affiliation this year and cast a ballot for Ron DeSantis in the governor’s race.
“I’m Cuban and I see a lot of pink and red inclinations,” she said, referring to Socialism. “In America we don’t play with that kind of thing.
“We need to preserve America,” she added after leaving the polling place at Miami Beach Senior High.
Maria Portilla, 31, a business manager and registered Republican, said she also voted for DeSantis. But Portilla said it was amendment 13, which would ban greyhound racing, that she felt most strongly about.
Portilla described herself as an animal lover and said she was upset to learn that Florida was one of only a handful of states that still allow greyhound racing.
— KYRA GURNEY
VOTER TURNOUT HIGH IN DADE
5:09 p.m.: Turnout in Miami-Dade has already passed the 50 percent mark, with the evening rush still to come.
With more than 187,000 people voting through 4 p.m on Tuesday, the overall turnout rate is roughly 53 percent. More than 550,000 people had voted early or cast ballots by mail when voting began Tuesday morning, bringing overall voting to about 743,000 people.
The last gubernatorial election, when incumbent Rick Scott beat Charlie Crist in 2014, had a 41 percent turnout in Miami-Dade.
The high-water mark since 2000 was the 2002 race that saw incumbent Jeb Bush beat Bill McBride. Turnout in Dade that November was 52 percent.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
SPLITTING THE TICKET
5:06 p. m.: Sasha Baranov, a 23-year old University of Miami student and registered Republican, bucked his party and cast his vote for Andrew Gillum, the Democrat running for governor, against Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate.
“I decided to vote for Gillum because I couldn’t stomach any of the other candidates,’‘ he said. “The gubernatorial race this year reminded me of the 2016 elections. I had to vote for the lesser of two evils.”
Miles Wohl, an 18-year-old New Yorker who attends UM and was voting in his first election, split his ticket. The registered Republican voted for DeSantis, but voted for the Democratic candidate for Congressional District 27, Donna Shalala.
“I think Gillum is too far left. I’m proud of my Judaism and Gillum supports certain organizations that I believe are against Israel,’‘ he said. “Despite my Republican pride, I believe that Donna Shalala would be great for the U, so I voted for her for Congress,’‘ he said.
— A.J. GUARDINO
OF HOPE AND HOTELS IN MIAMI BEACH
4:04 p.m.: Michelle Erez, 42, isn’t affiliated with a political party, but this year she only voted for Democrats.
“I’m actually an independent but I’m hoping some things will change,” she said Tuesday afternoon after casting her ballot at Nautilus Middle School in Mid-Beach.
Erez also voted for the proposed Miami Beach convention center hotel. “Tourism is really important to Miami Beach so we have to keep promoting that,” she said.
Aura Vega, 90, voted against the hotel. She said she was concerned about traffic and that a big new hotel would put smaller South Beach hotels out of business.
“People will end up without jobs,” she said in Spanish.
Sonia Reyes, 54, was waiting in the parking lot for her daughter to arrive before voting. She said she planned to vote for Andrew Gillum for governor and Donna Shalala for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Reyes wasn’t optimistic that the election would make much of a difference in her life, though. “Sometimes they ask for votes but they don’t do anything,” she said. “But we have to vote just in case.”
— KYRA GURNEY
POLLING PRECINCT CONFUSION
4 p.m.: More than half of the voters who have showed up at the West Dade Regional Library in Westchester have been turned away because this isn’t their polling place, elections officials said.
“Siempre voto aquí,” (I always vote here) said one woman as she walked out, trying to figure out where she was supposed to go now.
West Dade Regional Library is an early voting place for much of Westchester. But many who were eligible to cast a ballot at the library for early voting are assigned to a different polling place for election day.
Early this morning a bus of 40 people showed up to vote here and none of them could, said county election specialist Martha Coleman.
One voter complained to someone on the phone as she walked out, “I’m just not going to vote.”
Danny Diaz, 42, who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, was one of the few people able to vote at the library because it’s his assigned polling place on election day. He voted a split ticket: Republicans Ron Desantis for governor, Carlos Curbelo for U.S. Congress and Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.
“Nelson has been doing a great job,” he said. “I didn’t like what [U.S. Senate candidate and former governor] Rick Scott did with the environment. He does more for his cronies than everyone else.”
As of 4 p.m., 128 people had voted at the West Dade Refional Library, country elections clerk Aurora Hurte said.
The group held a conference call midday Tuesday during which Florida executive director, Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert, said the state has faced significant issues beyond broken machines, old technology and poorly trained poll workers.
In Alachua County, she said, some people were being asked to vote on provisional ballots because every machine in the precinct was broken. Elsewhere in the county, people were being sent to other precincts because of broken machines.
In some precincts in Duval County, Spanish ballots were not available, despite state statute that upholds Spanish language requirements, including providing oral and written assistance and election-related materials.
Gonzalez-Eilert said in Miami-Dade County wait times are long, but moreso because of the four-page ballot, not necessarily because of machine problems.
Panama City, which was slammed by Hurricane Michael just a few weeks ago, has only one polling location in a largely African-American community. The location was only open November 5, and refused to open a site during election day, she said. A trolley was sent to take people in that area to another precinct but did not provided transportation all day.
Across the state, she said, address changes have been a recurring issue. Although the state allows for voters to change their address while at the precinct, some people are being told by poll workers that’s not allowed and they are being turned away. This is particularly a problem with college students and the homeless population, she said.
— SAMANTHA J. GROSS
2:30 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo said he had encountered many split- ticket voters in his congressional district today, most of whom are voting for Democrats Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson while also voting for the Republican Curbelo.
“You got plenty of straight-ticket voters out there but the ticket- splitters usually determine the outcome of the election,” Curbelo said outside Green Glades Elementary in West Kendall. “I’ve always done well with that group and we’re seeing that today.”
Curbelo greeted a few voters in Spanish after he emerged from a black Mercedes affixed with a University of Miami flag and “Go Canes!” written on the rear window.
There was not a line outside the elementary school and voters appeared to be walking in and out of the precinct in about 20 minutes.
Curbelo said he hasn’t heard much from voters he’s talked to about healthcare, the top issue Democrats are using to try to unseat him after he voted to repeal Obamacare last year. Instead, he said he’s hearing more about the environment and taxes.
“Honestly, in terms of my voter interactions that hasn’t been a top issue,” Curbelo said.
— ALEX DAUGHTERY
‘BIG SHOES TO FILL’
2 p.m.: Maria Elvira Salazar, the Republican candidate seeking to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congressional District 27, made several stops at precincts on Tuesday to take selfies with volunteers and talk to voters.
At the Miami-Dade Auditorium, Salazar said she had “big shoes to fill” with Ros-Lehtinen’s departure.
“She was really the center and that’s what I want to be — the center,” Salazar said. “I’m going to be a member of the Republican Party that will work with the Democrats to make sure that we find common ground on the environment, on healthcare, on immigration, on transportation.”
A political newcomer, Salazar is a former reporter for Univision, which she said gives her insight into the problems Miami-Dade voters face.
“I lived it, I covered it and now I want to solve it,” she said.
— ALEX HARRIS
A REPUBLICAN VOTER NO MORE
1:58 p.m.: Since Key Biscayne resident Fernando Bravo, 50, became a U.S. citizen in the George W. Bush years, he’s been voting Republican. But after the first year of President Trump’s term in office, he decided to switch parties, and today he cast his ballot for Democratic candidates for governor, U.S. congress and U.S. senate.
“I admired Trump as a real estate investor, I’m a real estate investor as well,” Bravo said. “But the way he treats people, talks to minorities, it’s not the right way. We deserve someone with good manners who respects women and minorities.”
Bravo waited for an hour and a half to make his way through the line at the Key Biscayne Community Center gym. At 1:30pm there were about 100 people in line.
Miami-Dade elections clerk Candido Rodriguez said at around 11 a.m. one of the voting machines stopped working. The elections staff on site were able to fix the machine and get it working again, but the snafu caused delays.
Some voters complained of lack of parking near the polling station. The garage directly next door was completely full, and many people had parked illegally on the street.
LABOR VOTER FOR REPUBLICANS
1:56 p.m.: Hugo Menendez, 87, has dedicated his life to public service, having worked as a school teacher, federal investigator, and, under former Gov. Bob Martinez, Florida’s Secretary of Labor and Employment Security. That last bit is why his vanity plate has the word “labor” in it.
But Menendez, who says he used to be a Democrat, believes the left — the wing usually associated with labor rights — has been corrupted.
“The Democrats want to keep people dependent” on government assistance, he said.
In his experience, organized labor leaders often put their personal interests ahead of the workers they represent. Now a retiree living in Westchester, Menendez voted a straight Republican ticket Tuesday. He also continues to support President Donald Trump, noting what he says are the president’s accomplishments in foreign policy and trade.
“I think he’s doing an excellent job,” Menendez said.
— ROB WILE
POLITICAL OPPOSITES AT SUNILAND PARK POLL
1:30 p.m.: The Suniland Park polling place in Pinecrest epitomized the great divide among voters on Election Day.
“[Gov.] Rick Scott is a strong leader who responded wonderfully to the hurricanes in Florida,’’ said Christopher White, a registered Republican who works for the U.S. government and voted for Scott for the U.S. Senate instead of incumbent Bill Nelson. “I also like the fact that he helps create jobs, which I believe is a top priority.’”
He also voted for Ron DeSantis, the Republican running for governor against Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate. “He is pro business and wants low taxes.”
And he voted for Maria Elvira Salazar, the Republican candidate for the Congressional District 27 seat, saying he wants Republicans to keep the majority in the House of Representatives. Salazar is running against Donna Shalala, the former UM president.
Laura Sanchez, also voting in Suniland Park, said she doesn’t always vote but decided this year was too important to sit out the election.
“I want more Democrats in Congress to stop Trump and the Republicans, and to pass the laws they want,’’ said Sanchez, who said she was in her 30s.
Even though she said she wasn’t Nelson’s biggest fan, she said she would rather see him re-elected than having Scott as senator.
She also voted for Gillum instead of DeSantis. “I voted for Andrew Gillum for governor because I strongly believe that we as U.S. citizens have the right to have free government healthcare,’’ Sanchez said.
— CHLOE MCELVEIN
IT’S ABOUT HEALTHCARE
12:49 p.m.: Mary Barzee Flores, trying to upend long-time incumbent Mario Diaz Balart for U.S. District House seat 25, spent part of the early afternoon campaigning outside of Palm Springs North fire station 44 in Hialeah. The firehouse had a slow trickle of voters just past noon, but there were far more campaign workers and media present than voters.
Barzee, a former judge now in private practice after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio torpedoed her federal bench nomination a few years ago, was recruited to run by Emily’s List.
She said she thinks her race will go right down to the wire, and she’s noticed a lot of enthusiasm — mostly from those tired of the same-old, same-old.
“Everything this guy, who’s allegedly representing this district for all these years, has done has been on the wrong side of every issue,” she said.
Top among her complaints about Diaz-Balart is his alliance with the National Rifle Association and his Johnny-come-lately stance about wanting pre-existing conditions cared for in any healthcare reform, though he has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
“Healthcare is the number one priority of voters I’m speaking to on both sides of Alligator Alley,” she said. “They’re afraid they’re going to lose their healthcare.”
— CHARLES RABIN
BARZEE FLORES VS. DIAZ-BALART IN HIALEAH
12:30 p.m.: Lawyer Mary Barzee Flores, trying to upend longtime incumbent Mario Diaz-Balart for U.S. District House seat 25, spent part of the early afternoon campaigning outside of Palm Springs North fire station 44 in Hialeah.
The firehouse had a slow trickle of voters just past noon, but there were far more campaign workers and news media.
Barzee Flores, a former Miami-Dade circuit judge now in private practice after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio torpedoed her federal bench nomination two years ago, was recruited to run by Emily’s List.
She said she thinks her race will go right down to the wire and she’s noticed a lot of enthusiasm — mostly from those tired of the same-old, same-old.
“Everything this guy, who’s allegedly representing this district for all these years, has done has been on the wrong side of every issue,” she said about Diaz-Balart.
Tops among her complaints with Diaz-Balart is his alliance with the NRA and his Johnny-come-lately stance about wanting preexisting conditions cared for in any healthcare reform, which he’s repeatedly voted to repeal.
“Healthcare is the number one priority of voters I’m speaking to on both sides of Alligator Alley,” she said. “They’re afraid they’re going to lose their healthcare.”
— CHARLES RABIN
SUAREZ TOUTS STRONG MAYOR, SOCCER STADIUM
12:30 p.m.: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez spent Tuesday morning hopping from precinct to precinct encouraging voters to say yes to the three ballot questions posed to city residents.
His top priorities: the proposed stadium complex for Miami’s upcoming Major League Soccer team and his own “strong-mayor” initiative that would make him the administrative head of Miami’s government.
Suarez, a Republican, told the Miami Herald he saw pros and cons in both major political parties, but he voted for Democrat Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race. Standing outside the voting precinct at Kinloch Park in Flagami, the mayor said he feels Gillum, Tallahassee’s mayor, understands a few major issues facing Miami residents, including the lack of housing affordability, transportation challenges and stagnant wages for workers.
“People should have a basic standard of living,” Suarez said as he spoke about Gillum’s desire to establish a statewide living wage. “That’s a fundamental human right.”
Suarez seemed optimistic about the ballot measures he’s backing. He has made the rounds in Spanish-language media and on the ground to push his strong-mayor proposal — including an appearance at Gillum’s Souls to be Polls event in Miami on Sunday. He’s made the case for making the elected mayor the city’s top-decision maker instead of an appointed city manager.
“I think we should be moving past the system of government where an unelected person has all the control,” he said.
— JOEY FLECHAS
EARLY VOTING LEADS TO SHORT LINES IN KEY LARGO
Noon: Voting on Election Day was steady at the Key Largo library Tuesday morning, but there were no lines.
This is likely due to Monroe County setting an early voting record this year. When early voting ended Saturday, 40 percent of the island chain’s registered voters already cast their ballots.
Most people at the library wanted to keep their votes private, but the ones who spoke with the Miami Herald/FlKeysNews.com said they voted in keeping with the Republican-leaning Upper Keys.
Tiffany Moe, 48, a hairdresser, said she’s not too enthused about Gov. Rick Scott but prefers him over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate.
“I went with Rick Scott,” Moe said. “I feel that he’s the devil that you know.’”
She also voted for Ron DeSantis for governor over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
“I have friends in Tallahassee and I’ve seen some of the things that have happened up there,” Moe said, referring to an FBI probe into City Hall. Gillum maintains he is not the subject of any federal investigation.
— DAVID GOODHUE
LONGER LINES IN KEY WEST
Noon: Meanwhile, poll workers at the Senior Citizens Housing Complex in Key West marveled at how busy they’ve been on Election Day.
“It’s been nonstop since 6:30 a.m.,” Christine Russell, who has worked the polls for years, said during a break from the action. “Lines around the hallway. They came early because they want to be the first to vote. This is an election everyone wants to vote in.”
Russell believes people are fired up.
But Steve McBride, 65, who is retired, said he is simply a chronic voter. “I’m not an activist, I’m not angry,” he said. “I just vote.”
— GWENDOLYN FILOSA
BIG PINE KEY AND MEMORIES OF IRMA
Noon: Kristen Norman is a new resident of Big Pine Key, having moved there this year. But the damage done to the town by Hurricane Irma over a year ago was on her mind as she voted Tuesday.
Her ballot ran blue.
“I care about the recovery because it’s still a mess,” said Norman, 33, a mediator in Key West.
She also wants Republican state Rep. Holly Raschein voted out in favor of Democratic newcomer Steve Friedman, of Islamorada.
“He’s a boat captain and he cares about the environment,” she said.
Big Pine voter Jason McCaleb, 38, who is self-employed, wouldn’t say how he voted.
“It’s what I should do,” he said outside the Big Pine Community Park polling place. “I’ve voted since I was 18.”
— GWENDOLYN FILOSA
FREE HAMILTON TICKETS? LEAST OF VOTER’S WORRIES
11:30 a.m.: Alberto Moreno, a Cuban American who said he changed his registration from Republican to Democrat four years ago over concern with the GOP’s shift to the right, voted a straight Democratic ticket, including a ballot for Andrew Gillum as governor.
The FBI investigation that has entangled the Tallahassee mayor didn’t bother him.
“Free [Hamilton] tickets or whatever? That’s the least of my concerns, considering what’s at stake,” said Moreno, 37, as he voted at the North Shore Branch Library in Miami Beach.
John Leufray, 38, also voted straight a straight Democratic ticket.
For U.S. Senate, the African-American graphic designer somewhat unenthusiastically cast a ballot for incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. “He’s old, but the alternatives are not viable,” the North Beach resident said.
Gillum is what brought him to the polls. “He’s great,” Leufray said. “DeSantis just wants to divide us.”
Walter Lugo, 43, also came to the polls for Gillum — to vote against him.
“I’m a small business owner and I have to make sure our taxes are lowered,” said Lugo, who runs a civil engineering consulting business. “I don’t trust him with taxes.”
(As it turned out, Lugo, a Surfside resident, was at the wrong polling place.)
Lower down the ballot, Silvia Nagy-Zekmi said she was voting for Michael Grieco, a former Beach commissioner who pleaded no contest last year to criminal charges over a campaign finance scandal, instead of Republican Jonathan Parker for state representative.
“Grieco is the Democrat,” said Nagy-Zekmi, 65, as she clenched her nostrils shut with her left hand. “Sometimes you have to hold your nose.”
— NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
VOTERS PACK CHURCH IN BRICKELL
11 a.m.: The builders of First Presbyterian Church in Brickell, completed in 1949, could hardly have imagined that nearly 70 years later its tiny entryway would be turned into a polling place.
Residents in the heart of Miami’s financial district were waiting in line up to 35 minutes to cast ballots at the church, while a handful of staffers attempted to handle massive turnout in one of Miami’s most populated neighborhoods.
Tom Boyle, 27, a medical student currently working at Jackson Memorial Hospital, said his No. 1 issue was health care. He described himself as a fan of Obamacare.
But he believes America is ready and willing to go further. “[America’s health care system] should look more like [Jackson’s],” he said, which admits and treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.
Just ahead of Boyle in line was Brody Crawford, 25, a stock trader who was with his wife and newborn. Crawford fears the “blue wave” some pundits have said could crash over the nation on the back of Democratic enthusiasm.
“If it’s a blue wave, we’re going to go down the road of Venezuela,” he said. “If it’s a red wave, the economy will keep booming,” he said.
Florida has had eight great years under Rick Scott, he said. While he believes climate change is happening, he said he does not believe there is much humans can do to mitigate it. “I don’t think you can control what’s happening either way,” he said.
He admits that his right-leaning views have increasingly brought him into conflict with friends and family members. “It has gotten worse,” he said.
— ROB WILE
GILLUM CASTS VOTE IN CAPITAL
10:30 a.m.: Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum cast a ballot for himself Tuesday morning shortly after 10 a.m., surrounded by his family and a throng of state and national media outlets, jockeying for space outside the polling location at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in northern Tallahassee.
Holding his youngest son Davis in his left arm, Gillum and his wife R. Jai walked their two other children, clad in red and white, into the polling location, where he spent a few minutes in the polling booth.
He emerged to a small crowd of supporters — chanting his slogan “bring it home!” — before he took questions from reporters.
“I’m extremely excited to have just, I guess I can reveal, cast a vote for myself,” he said, as his wife R. Jai added teasingly she had voted for him too. “We’re excited about the day, we’re hopeful that it won’t be raining in other parts of the state.”
Asked about the historic implications of the election, Gillum cast his campaign in national terms: “Us winning tonight I think will send a message to Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis as well that the politics of hatred, of division, of separation have come to an end at least in this election,” he said. “People are going out and voting for something and not against. ... We’ll worry about history later but today we’re working to win.”
Shortly before arriving to vote, Gillum had tweeted indirectly about a set of text messages pretending to be from his campaign that suggested that he would substantially raise taxes in addition to his opposition to Stand Your Ground.
“We’re hearing the dirty tricks are already beginning — don’t be fooled,” he wrote. “Don’t fall for the okey-doke. You know my record. You know my vision.”
9:05 a.m.: Sometimes political activists and poll watchers get it right and sometimes they get it wrong.
Just after a Wynwood polling station opened on Tuesday morning, local activist and trial lawyer Gabrielle Dalemberte Tweeted, “HALF of the machines are broken here at Jose de Diego Middle School. HALF don’t work!”
The Tweet, which has since been deleted, got the attention of Miami Dade County. Its poll workers were reporting no problems. By the time a reporter arrived, there were no signs of problems.
A poll worker explained that a light bulb had gone out in one of the voting booths, but that the electronic vote-tallying machines were all functioning normally. Poll workers did say they ended up requesting — and receiving — two additional voting booths to handle the unexpectedly large wave of early voters.
Workers said two voters complained they had not received mail-in ballots, so they were instructed to cast provisional ballots. “We don’t want to turn anyone away,” one poll worker said.
— ROB WILE
MORE MINOR MACHINE PROBLEMS
9:00 a.m.: A precinct worker who declined to give his name at Coral Reef Branch Library said one ballot reading machine started sticking and refusing to accept ballots Tuesday, but by 9 a.m. workers were already fixing it.
The phone line allowing the precinct to upload results at the end of the night was also broken, he said. A worker arrived at 9 a.m. to begin repairs.
It didn’t appear to inconvenience any voters.
— ALEX HARRIS
A MIXED BALLOT
8:55 a.m.: For Jorge Almirall, a 55-year-old Republican business owner, having balance in government is important. That’s why he voted for some Republicans and some Democrats at the national level, while sticking to the party line at the state level.
Almirall, standing in front of the precinct at the Coral Reef Branch Library, said he also voted in favor of Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights for felons.
“I just feel like if somebody has done their time and completed their sentence they deserve to vote,” he said.
Across the street at the Palmetto Golf Course, Lou Rodriguez, a 72-year-old retired county employee, heaved his clubs from the trunk of his car and donned a bright red “Make America Great Again” hat.
He voted already via mail-in ballot, the same way he’s done it every election for the last decade.
Rodriguez said President Donald Trump’s endorsement sealed the deal on his vote for Ron DeSantis, but that was the only candidate he felt passionate about.
“I just voted strictly a Republican ticket,” he said. “I didn’t read too much about the candidates.”
He did vote in favor of Amendment 3, which gives voters control of casino expansion.
“I think the politicians are getting too much into the normal, everyday citizens’ business,” he said.
‘TURN FLORIDA BLUE’
7:15 a.m.: Ida Rahman, a 36-year-old lawyer, showed up early to vote at the West Dade Regional Library in Westchester with her two toddlers in tow, but, like about a dozen people that morning, it wasn’t her correct polling place.
Rahman said she was determined to vote that day and cast her ballot for Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
“I watched him in the debates and he was calm and collected, but he called (Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron) Desantis out on his bulls---,” she said. “Unfortunately, Desantis responder with bigotry, but that’s to be expected.”
Rahman said she also voted yes on Amendment 4 to restore voting rights for felons because she hoped it would “help turn Florida blue.”
— ALEX HARRIS
‘I’M TRUMPIN’ ALL THE WAY’
6:30 a.m.: Half an hour before the polls opened, the line around the West Dade Regional Library was more than 20 people long.
Tom Harrison, a 68-year-old retired Metromover technician, was second in line, not because he had anywhere to be, but because he was excited to cast his all-red ballot.
“I’m Trumpin’ all the way across the board,” he said. “Mostly it’s about keeping things the way they’re going. I like the way they’re going.”
He said he plans to vote for Rick Scott for senator and Ron DeSantis for governor.
“Compared to Gillum, are you kidding?” He said. “He’s a super con artist. Probably Obama’s little brother.”
Harrison said he plans to figure out the ballot amendments on the fly, but he knows he’ll vote against Republican Carlos Curbelo in his congressional race.
“I don’t like that guy at all. He’s not a Republican at all,” he said. “He voted with Nancy Pelosi 80 percent of the time. That guy lit a fire under my a--.” Harrison said he votes every election and stays informed through YouTube videos.
— ALEX HARRIS
‘DOING MY DUTY’
6:10 a.m.: By 6:10 a.m., a half-dozen people were already queued at North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens to avoid any prospect of long lines. Olivia-Bernard Janvier, 65, a native of Haiti, said she was voting for changement — change, meaning Democrats, she said.
Change was also on the mind of Leroy Samuels, a 49-year-old security guard, who queued up in the pre-dawn twilight to get to work on time.
“I want the Democrats to take back power,” he said. “I’m confident they’re going to do it.”
Daron Clark, 31, didn’t vote in 2016. He was hoping to rectify that decision Tuesday morning.
“I’m doing my duty as a citizen,” he said. “I did my research.”
Miami Gardens and North Miami have both historically leaned Democrat. But Sherman, a 59-year-old who does not work and declined to give his last name, switched his party allegiance in 2016, thanks to Donald Trump.
“I liked what he had to say,” he said. “Black people think all Republicans are against them ... but I liked what Trump was saying about immigration and the economy.” He planned to vote for Ron DeSantis for governor, and said he feared Andrew Gillum would raise taxes and turn Florida into a “sanctuary state.”
“I just don’t think it’s right for foreigners to come here and have their children automatically become citizens,” he said.
— ROB WILE