Elections

Miami-Dade increases early voting hours for general election

A poll worker keeps an eye on the people voting at the Coral Gables Library during early voting ahead of the Florida presidential primary in March.
A poll worker keeps an eye on the people voting at the Coral Gables Library during early voting ahead of the Florida presidential primary in March. Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County will offer the maximum number of allowed early-voting hours ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, the elections department announced Thursday.

Early-voting sites will open for 12 hours a day — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — for a full two weeks, from Monday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 6.

That’s 168 hours total — 56 more hours than the 112 hours offered leading to Tuesday’s primary election. Ahead of the primary, Miami-Dade also set two weeks of early voting, but sites were open for eight hours a day.

The increase is “commensurate” with a presidential election that draws more voters to the polls than any other election, the Miami-Dade elections department said in a statement.

“Our voters will access more sites than ever before, as well as the maximum number of days and hours of operation to ensure our voters are afforded every opportunity to vote early,” Elections Supervisor Christina White said.

She said she’d been mulling the additional hours for a while but didn’t make the call to extend them until after the primary. The county offered 12-hour early-voting days in 2012 — but over only eight days, because the state at the time prohibited any more. The law has since been changed.

Long voting lines during that election embarrassed Miami-Dade and prompted a slew of upgrades and reforms at the state and local levels. Elections have gone smoothly since, though this will be the first presidential election to test the changes. Among them was the expansion to 30 early-voting sites instead of 20.

More early voting in presidential elections tends to benefit Democrats, who have historically organized more supporters to go to the polls before Election Day. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican in a nonpartisan office, will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot, in a runoff against fellow Republican Raquel Regalado.

Statewide early voting isn’t required to begin until Saturday, Oct. 29. Broward County will offer early voting from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 24 through Nov. 6. That adds up to 126 hours.

Miami Herald staff writer Amy Sherman contributed to this report.

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