Election 2020 live updates: Here’s what is happening in South Florida on October 24

Howard Cohen, Devoun Cetoute
·9 min read

We’re keeping track of the latest news regarding the campaigns, early voting and other political news in South Florida and around the state. Check back for updates throughout the day.

Obama, campaigning in Florida’s COVID epicenter, criticizes Trump’s pandemic response

7 p.m.: Former President Barack Obama gave a 45-minute speech at Florida International University’s North Miami campus Saturday afternoon.

It was the first speech the former president made in Miami-Dade County in two years. Obama spoke on issues like socialism, Obamacare and the federal government’s Hurricane Maria response. But most of his speech time was on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

We just saw the highest number of cases spike up yesterday,” Obama said, of COVID-19 infections nationally. “You think [Trump] would be ready for a response? He doesn’t have a plan. He doesn’t even acknowledge the reality.”

He also criticized Trump for trying to overturn Obamacare through the courts without offering a replacement.

Obama ended his speech with a rally cry, “Honk if you’re fired up. Honk if you’re ready to go.” By the end of his 45-minute speech, which included a rally cry to fire up voters, 5.5 million Florida voters had already cast ballots.

Read the story here.

Former President Barack Obama speaks to Joe Biden field organizers during a surprise stop in Miami Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 24, 2020.
Former President Barack Obama speaks to Joe Biden field organizers during a surprise stop in Miami Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 24, 2020.

‘If you bring Florida home this thing’s over.’ Obama makes surprise Miami Springs stop

3 p.m.: Former President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Miami Springs on Saturday, stopping by the majority Latino small city just north of Miami International Airport to motivate local field organizers for Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign before they headed out to go door-knocking.

“I’m not going to keep you all from doing all the great work you’re doing but I just wanted to come by and say thank you...” Obama said. “Many of you were involved when I ran in 2008 and some of you when I ran in 2012 and I am so grateful. The lifeblood of any campaign is not TV ads. It’s not position papers. It’s not the debates. It’s organizing, going out there and doing it every day.”

Obama’s seven-minute stop came before he was set to hold a drive-in rally in North Miami to encourage people to vote early.

“If you bring Florida home, this thing’s over,” Obama said.

Read the story here.

Party at the Polls in Lemon City

3 p.m.: Across the street from the Lemon City Branch Library, music blasted while kids ran around with painted faces.

They were out there at a ”Party at the Polls” event hosted by Family Action Network Movement (FANM) and the National TPS Alliance to excite and encourage voters.

Marleine Bastien, FANM executive director, said their main message was to encourage others to vote for immigrants in the community who do not have a voice. She said the responsibly doesn’t stop after a ballot is cast and that it’s important to get as many people voting as possible.

“That’s the goal,” Bastien said. “You came here today to the Lemon City Library to vote, but also reach out to five, 10, 100 people and ask them to go vote too, because this election is probably one of the most important things in our lifetime.”

At the Library only a few people trickled in and out to cast or drop off their ballot. Across the street the party raged on.

The National TPS Alliance parked their justice bus painted with images of essential workers behind the words “El camino a la justicia, vamos con todo” — “The road to justice, we go with everything.”

Claudia Lainez, an organizer with the National TPS Alliance said the group is driving the bus across the country. It started it Pasadena, California and will end in Washington D.C.

“We’re fighting for permanent residency,” Lainez said. “We want to make sure the Latinos go out and vote but also everybody who’s not aware of TPS should know about it.”

Bastien emphasized the importance that TPS recipients play in their communities, especially in Miami.

“These are these are parents, concerned parents,” Bastien said. “How do you ask parents to pack their lives in suitcases, in some cases to be deported to nations in turmoil?”

Michael Montuori, 30, said he came out to the event because he’s been very passionate about the event and helping increase minority voices and votes. A registered Democrat from Biscayne Park, he hasn’t yet cast his ballot, but plans to vote down party lines.

His younger brother Corso Montuori, 19, sat in the grass at the event next to him. Both were sporting FANM T-shirts, but Corso had a round “I voted” sticker over his heart.

He dropped his Democratic ballot off at the Lemon City Branch earlier Saturday when they arrived — his first vote in a presidential election.

Prayer at the polls: Faith groups urge people of color across Florida to vote early

1:50 p.m.: Deon Hinds got up around dawn Saturday to go vote at the North Dade Regional Library, where she was reminded of her faith in God before casting her ballot.

As she waited in a line of about 50 people that wrapped around the library in Miami Gardens, a group of pastors and activists sang the hymn “We’ve Come This Far By Faith,” clapping and harmonizing with each other.

“It made the waiting easier, simpler,” Hinds said. “I believe everything you do you should put God first, even voting.”

The morning prayers were part of a statewide effort called “Prayer at the Polls,” organized by a coalition of faith-based groups encouraging voters, especially people of color, to vote early in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 election. The coalition, Faith in Florida, hosted events in six Florida counties, including three in Miami-Dade County.

Another set of events is scheduled for Sunday.

Read the story here.

President casts his vote in Palm Beach County

President Donald Trump talks with reporters after casting his ballot in the presidential election, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
President Donald Trump talks with reporters after casting his ballot in the presidential election, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

10:50 a.m.: President Donald Trump has voted twice by mail since becoming a Palm Beach County resident one year ago. But on Saturday, like so many other Florida Republicans, Donald Trump voted for Donald Trump in person.

Trump cast his ballot at the Palm Beach County main library in West Palm Beach at around 10 a.m.. WPTV reported Trump voted in a private room at the library because poll workers have not all been tested for COVID-19. Outside, Trump supporters waved flags and chanted, hoping to catch glimpse of the president.

He emerged from his private voting room around 10:17 a.m. With library stacks behind him, he quickly stopped to tell reporters he felt more secure voting in person, as opposed to mailing in his ballot. He also shared his predictable pick for the presidency.

“I voted for a guy named Trump,” he said, before leaving in a motorcade for the airport.

Read the story here.

Prayer at the Polls

Pastor Stephanie E. Russell, right, and Denise Mills Mincey, left, pray as voters lineup to cast their early ballots at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens on Saturday, October 24, 2020. Faith in Florida, a federation of the national faith-based grassroots organization Faith in Action, hosted Prayer at the Polls events like this one across the state Saturday.
Pastor Stephanie E. Russell, right, and Denise Mills Mincey, left, pray as voters lineup to cast their early ballots at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens on Saturday, October 24, 2020. Faith in Florida, a federation of the national faith-based grassroots organization Faith in Action, hosted Prayer at the Polls events like this one across the state Saturday.

10:45 a.m.: Outside the Stephan P. Clark government center in Downtown Miami about eight pastors, ministers and Faith in Florida organizes joined hands and started to pray.

Saturday morning’s Prayer at the Polls was part of statewide events hosted by Faith in Florida to encourage people, especially people of color, to vote.

The events at three Miami-Dade locations fall within the two weekends of Souls to the Polls, also hosted by Faith in Florida in dozens of cities across the state to mobilize voters in the final push toward Election Day on Nov. 3.

In Downtown Miami, voters were scarce Saturday morning. There were no lines and a small turnout, but that didn’t stop the organizers from praising God and encouraging people to vote on a live stream.

“Many people have already started to come out and every day we look at the statistics and we have more early voters than we have ever had,” Central Dade Faith in Florida organizer Cheryl Coleman said. “I believe it’s because we are doing efforts like this across the state.”

At the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens, another Prayer at the Polls event was taking place.

There, about 50 people wrapped around the building waiting to cast their ballot. Off to the side, Faith in Florida coordinators and pastors were singing and praising.

Deon Hinds was at the library on Saturday morning to vote when she saw the group singing.

“It made the waiting easier, simpler,” Hinds said. “I believe everything you do you should put God first, even voting.”

How Floridians are voting: The latest numbers are in

A large number of Floridians have already cast ballots for the 2020 general election.
A large number of Floridians have already cast ballots for the 2020 general election.

10:30 a.m.: As of Saturday morning, 37.5% of Florida’s active registered voters have already cast mail-in or early votes for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election, the Florida Division of Elections reports.

Here’s how that breaks down by party.

Obama heads to Miami and Trump to Palm Beach amid record early voting in Florida

Former President Barack Obama speaks to Joe Biden field organizers during a surprise stop in Miami Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 24, 2020.
Former President Barack Obama speaks to Joe Biden field organizers during a surprise stop in Miami Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 24, 2020.

9:30 a.m.: Floridians are voting in record numbers ahead of the Nov. 3 election. But President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden can’t afford to be complacent in the nation’s biggest battleground, even amid historic early voting turnout.

Both campaigns will have a big presence in South Florida this weekend in an effort to continue to spur on their bases in a state that Trump must win. And strategists are looking to the coming weekend to help crystallize what the final week of the campaign will look like.

Trump will vote in Palm Beach County Saturday morning, casting a ballot in person for the first time since registering to vote as a Floridian last year. Also Saturday, the Biden campaign will send former President Barack Obama to North Miami for a “drive-in” rally.

The dueling events come as Democrats attempt to hold onto their initial big lead over Republicans, a margin that has thinned since in-person voting began Monday. Polls show a tight race in Florida.

Read the story here.

CATCH UP ON ELECTION 2020 IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Judge Betsy Benson, canvassing board chair, left, and Judge Deborah Carpenter-Toye, canvassing board member, examine a damaged ballot as the election recount continues in Broward County on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.
Judge Betsy Benson, canvassing board chair, left, and Judge Deborah Carpenter-Toye, canvassing board member, examine a damaged ballot as the election recount continues in Broward County on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

In Miami-Dade, Black voters twice as likely as white voters to have ballots rejected.