Live Election Day updates: Here’s what’s happening in Florida

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

‘We have too much to lose’

Linda Williams, who has lived all her 67 years in Coconut Grove, said residents of the historically Black Village West are not making the same mistake they made in 2016, when too many stayed home and didn’t vote.

“It could be hailing, it could raining down fire and brimstone, but we are going to the polls,” Williams said. “Black voters know we have too much to lose when it comes to criminal justice, jobs, housing and healthcare.”

There was a steady flow of voters at Elizabeth Virrick Park on Tuesday, but many in the precinct voted early, said Williams, who helped “saturate” Grand Avenue with signs for Democratic Party candidates, including Joe Biden, Donna Shalala, Daniella Levine Cava and Cindy Lerner.

Williams has half a dozen signs planted in her yard.

“Black voters are always subject to suppression efforts, but we understand the urgency of this election, we’re not complacent or indifferent this time,” Williams said. “We’re tired of Trump’s lies and his lack of a plan to manage the pandemic, which has really hurt our community.”

“We’ve had a fantastic turnout,” said Williams, vice chair of the Coconut Grove Village Council and Village West Homeowners and Tenants Association. “We’re hoping for a landslide for the Democrats.”

— LINDA ROBERTSON

A desire to ‘go back to normal,’ Instagram and all

Alex Garcia, 28, said he woke up Tuesday thinking he was going to vote for Trump, but he changed his mind at the voting booth. He ended up picking Biden to “go back to normal.”

“I just want my Instagram to be about me again,” Garcia said, “and how good I look.”

— LAUTARO GRINSPAN

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‘Evening shift’ of voters in West Kendall

After what supporters of various candidates said was a slow afternoon at Miami Arts Studio 6-12, an “evening shift” of voters began trickling in to the West Kendall precinct around 5:15 p.m.

Perla Sole Calas, campaigning for mayoral candidate Steve Bovo, said the energy throughout the day was positive and she was happy to see a lot of people interested in the local races.

“I think this might be the first election that people who have been paying attention realize how important local elections are,” she said.

“Now people understand that the mayor can shut down the city,” said Calas. “The mayor can shut down the county. The mayor is going to control transportation, curfews, businesses, and impact their day-to-day lives.”

An old college friend of the candidate, Calas said she’s never helped any candidate on Election Day before, but Bovo and what he stands for is the only reason she came out.

“One of the things I think distinguishes him from his opponent is that Bovo grew up here,” she said. “He’s seen the growth, he’s seen the problems, and he’s lived them,” she said. “We need someone who knows this community in and out.”

— SELENA STANLEY/FIU

Pastelitos, cafecito, and voting

A pair of Biden-Harris supporters handed out pastelitos and cafecito to voters outside the South Dade Regional Library at 5:30 p.m., where there was no line to vote in person or to drop off mail-in ballots at the drop box, one of four in the county.

Carolina Hidalgo-McCabe, 20, and Sofia Hidalgo, 18, said the free pastelitos are inspired by their uncle, Patrick Hidalgo, founder of the progressive Miami Freedom Project, who died suddenly earlier this year.

The two moved to Miami this year from the Washington, D.C., area and have always been involved in political organizing, they said.

“It looks very promising,” Hidalgo-McCabe said about Democratic in-person turnout. They were heading to a drive in watch party in Wynwood at 8 p.m. “We are remaining hopeful.”

Ozell Gary, 47, a sanitation worker with the city of Coral Gables said he waited until Tuesday to drop off his mail-in ballot because his work schedule didn’t allow for him to get it done earlier. He voted for Biden because he is tired of what he called Trump’s lies and racism.

“Even during the Bush era there wasn’t this much hate,” he said. “It’s time we get a president for America, not just the Republican Party.”

— TAYLOR DOLVEN

18th birthday on Monday, election voting on Tuesday

Sophia Molina, a senior at New World School of the Arts, turned 18 on Monday and immediately stood in line at the Coral Gables Country Club on Tuesday morning to vote for the first time.

“It’s kind of overwhelming, but at the same time it feels very nice knowing that I can do my duty as a citizen to vote, especially in such an important election that’s going to be talked about in many history textbooks for many years to come,” said a masked Molina.

Molina said she’s been researching the candidates, particularly in the presidential race. In fact, she pulled out a piece of paper torn from a notebook, with a list of the candidates she would vote for and how she would vote on the ballot questions.

Molina’s father and mother — her father was with her — moved to South Florida from Caracas, Venezuela, before she was born. They became citizens a few years ago, leading them to discuss politics and the importance of voting. (Her father voted early at the Coral Gables Library.)

Molina said she voted for former Vice President Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket.

“I’m not totally for him, but I’ m also not totally against him. I prefer him over Trump,’‘ she said.

She said she is turned off by Trump’s tweets and how he treats people.

“The biggest thing that scares me is how he talks to other people, and his lack of compassion to certain groups of people,” she said of Trump, noting, in particular, to African Americans and Hispanics.

She also voted for Daniella Levine Cava as mayor and Donna Shalala in the 27th Congressional District race.

An accomplished violinist, Molina hopes to attend either The Juilliard School in New York or the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. She voted for Shalala, in part, for her musical outreach program at UM, which pairs Frost student musicians with children to keep students in school.

As for the actual voting on Tuesday, Molina said it was “so cool.”

And even though she made a mistake and had to redo her ballot, she said the act of voting was important.

“I was like, ‘Wow, my voice has been heard.’ It was empowering.”

— JOAN CHRISSOS

Extended deadline in Palm Beach County

The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Wendy Sartory, late Tuesday extended the deadline for voters returning their vote-by-mail ballots at drop boxes by two hours, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The county allows voters to return their ballots to secure drop boxes located at the three branch offices and the main office.

— MARY ELLEN KLAS

Federal judge orders Election Day sweep for missing mail ballots, including in South Florida

Workers load carts filled with ballots onto a waiting USPS truck at the Miami-Dade Elections Department in Doral, Florida, on Oct. 1, 2020. The Miami-Dade County Elections Department mailed more than 530,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Oct. 1 to voters with a request on file for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.
Workers load carts filled with ballots onto a waiting USPS truck at the Miami-Dade Elections Department in Doral, Florida, on Oct. 1, 2020. The Miami-Dade County Elections Department mailed more than 530,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Oct. 1 to voters with a request on file for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., issued an extraordinary Election Day order shortly after noon Tuesday, commanding the U.S. Postal Service to sweep mail processing facilities for undelivered ballots in a dozen postal districts nationwide, including South Florida.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the agency to “ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery.” He ordered sweeps of mail facilities between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and requested a status update by 4:30 p.m.

The order came after the Postal Service filed data in court Tuesday that showed about 300,000 ballots nationwide that haven’t been scanned to confirm they were delivered, even though USPS says they were processed.

Read the story here.

Student flies into Coral Gables the night before Election Day to vote

Christian Norniella-Burke, a college student from Coral Gables currently based in Delaware, never received the mail-in ballot he first requested eight weeks ago. So the 22-year-old decided to buy a plane ticket the night before the election and traveled back home to vote in person.

“I flew down just to vote,” he said. “I bought the flight last night at 7 p.m. and came down this morning. I wasn’t going to let them not let me vote.”

To Norniella-Burke, who voted at the Coral Gables Library at around 2 p.m., the more than $200 price tag of the last minute flight was a worthwhile expense.

“It was worth every dollar,” he said. “It was my duty to vote and I did my duty.”

With immigration, healthcare and tax policy as his top issues, Norniella-Burke, Class of 2021 at the University of Delaware, voted for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden is a Class of 1965 grad from the University of Delaware.

— LAUTARO GRINSPAN

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Lines at remaining vote-by-mail satellite sites?

Common Cause of Florida’s Liza Mcclenaghan told reporters Tuesday that the coalition of election protection partners has “slightly less than 2,000 poll monitors through Florida.” Their voter protection hotline has received more than 1,200 calls Tuesday alone and most of them relate to voter education and how to find out if a vote-by-mail ballot has been counted.

She said that because many people still want to drop off their ballots and cannot do that at precincts but only at Supervisor of Elections offices or their satellite offices, she expects long lines at the remaining vote-by-mail drop-off sites Tuesday night.

— MARY ELLEN KLAS

Broward to post 840,000 ballots at 7 p.m.

Steven Vancore, spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office, said it is planning to post 840,000 ballots at 7 p.m. Workers, he said, spent the day loading the ballots in the system.

“We only have right now, 300 ballots that we’re trying to cure, which is remarkable given the fact that we’ve had over 400,000 vote by mail,” he said shortly before 3:30 p.m. on Election Day. “We’ve already made contact with many of the voters. We’ve already cured over 100 ballots.

“It’s been a slow day at the polls because so many people voted,” Vancore said. “Even if we have a record overall turnout, we’re still looking at a relatively slow day. If we have 125,000 people vote today in person that would be higher than expected.”

As of 4 p.m., more than 934,000 people, or 73.4 percent of registered voters in Broward County, had voted, Mary Hall, deputy Supervisor of Elections, told the canvassing board during its meeting. This included vote by mail, early voting and Election Day.

“We are very happy to have those historical numbers for our not so gigantic staff,” Hall said. “They are doing a great job; we’re very proud of them along with our poll workers.”

During the meeting Hall reported that they had 190 ballots with no signature; 30 had a different signature; and 53 were signed by someone other than the voter.

Another 43 ballots were moved away to a different county.

Hall said they also had over 400 provisional ballots that they will need to research and clear. In early voting they will have a few hundred also. She expected to have the “good solid numbers” on the provisional ballots at 5 p.m. Thursday.

— JACQUELINE CHARLES

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Opining on the Broward sheriff’s race

Voters in line at the Walnut Creek Clubhouse in Pembroke Pines had opinions about who was the best candidate for Broward sheriff: incumbent Gregory Tony, running as a Democrat and who replaced former Sheriff Scott Israel after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High; or H. Wayne Clark, the Republican candidate.

Vyom Upadhya, 38, cast his vote for Tony.

A new father to a baby girl, Upadhya, who is of Indian heritage, said, “Sheriff Tony was the right choice for Broward County sheriff because his focus on community walk and talk, school safety from gun violence and police reform training is exactly what we need in our community and country.”

Jose Riguera, 55, a Democrat and attorney, also voted for Tony.

“Although he is not a great candidate, I voted for all Democrats on the ballot as a protest against the Republican administration.”

— NAVYA KULHARI/University of Miami

Volunteers remind voters Little Haiti library isn’t a precinct on Election Day

Volunteers from the progressive coalition Florida For All are seated outside of Lemon City Branch Library in Little Haiti informing people that show up to vote that it is not a polling location on Election Day.

The library was an early voting and ballot drop-off location, but some voters have confused it as a Nov. 3 precinct.

The coalition has also posted signs with QR codes for voters to scan to find their appropriate polling location.

You can’t vote just anywhere on Election Day. Tips for voting on Tuesday

At a Hialeah polling place, dueling salsa songs, taunts of ‘comunista’

Trump supporters staged a loud, flashy and “offensive” pep rally in Hialeah at the JFK library polling place, said Carolina Hidalgo-McCabe, a Biden campaign worker who has been making the rounds to various sites with her Cubanos Por Biden organization.

“They are in the parking lot yelling at voters, running laps with Trump banners and a megaphone with a siren noise and driving pickup trucks in circles while honking and waving flags,” said Hidalgo-McCabe, 20, who lives in Westchester. “I’ve been to a lot of polling places during early voting and I’ve seen nothing as crazy as this. It’s very intimidating to voters who just want to vote.

At the John F. Kennedy Library in Hialeah, it was a battle of dueling salsa songs late Tuesday morning.

The sounds of “Pa fuera, pa la calle” from speakers on a Pro-Biden truck clashed with the “Yo voy a votar por Trump” tune coming from a rival car.

As the Biden pickup drove through the parking lot, a cluster of Trump supporters with bullhorns quipped “Aqui llegaron los comunistas de Miami” — “Miami’s communists are here.”

Read the story here.

— LINDA ROBERTSTON, YADIRA LOPEZ

Spider-Man swings into North Dade

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Miami Gardens’ reputation as a Democratic stronghold held true Tuesday afternoon at the North Dade Regional Library. Signs advocating for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris lined the roadways surrounding the polling place. Any canvassing for President Donald Trump was virtually nonexistent.

The opposite of somber, the library resembled a family reunion more than a polling place. At its peak, four DJs faced off, each playing their unique brand of hip-hop, R&B and funk, which blended well with the smell of grilling burgers. Intermittent advertisements for Danielle Levine Cava and Sharon Pritchett blasted from one of the speakers between songs. Even the superheroes couldn’t stay away; a man wearing a Spider-Man mask waved a large “Biden Harris 2020” flag.

“Nowhere else in Miami-Dade are you going to get this,” Miami Gardens Councilman Robert Stephens said.

And then there was the dancing. The musings of Michael Jackson or Earth Wind & Fire elicited the best responses as did more contemporary artists like Roddy Rich and Pop Smoke.

While the party-like atmosphere resonated with some voters, it wasn’t the main concern for people like K.C. Jones, who walked with his three kids into the voting booth. To him, Election Day wasn’t just about getting Biden into office; it was about honoring those who died without ever casting a ballot and about setting an example for his children.

“They denied my ancestors,” Jones, 31, said. Referring to himself as a “true Yankee,” he added that his family was from Georgia and Alabama. “[My ancestors] fought so I can have this right.”

— ISAIAH SMALLS

A four hour wait on Election Day? Well, yes, when it comes to these cinnamon buns

The line at Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead on Election Day was more than four hours long in the afternoon.
The line at Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead on Election Day was more than four hours long in the afternoon.

It was a dead zone at Homestead Senior High Tuesday afternoon. A local election’s canvasser, Andrea Toledano, was disappointed by the lack of foot traffic at the precinct. She said the nearby Knaus Berry Farm is “where it’s at.”

“I thought to myself: ‘Today may be the day to finally get some famous cinnamon buns’ — but I was dead wrong. That line we were anticipating at the polls is actually out there getting some buns.”

Toledano, who couldn’t make the super long line, ultimately came to the polls hungry.

Read the story here.

— MONIQUE O. MADAN

Some hiccups but no reported issues

Florida’s top elections official said Tuesday morning that county elections supervisors are experiencing “no reported issues” beyond some hiccups in two counties, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the Division of Elections, said all polling sites in the state opened on time Tuesday.

“Polling locations are open, they are prepared and they are equipped for voters,” Lee said.

Some sites in Lake and Lee counties had some “technology challenges” in the morning, but the problems “will not prevent any voter from casting a ballot today.”

By the time polling sites opened Tuesday, 9,069,661 Floridians — 62 percent of all registered voters — had already voted, she said.

Lee reminded voters who still plan to turn in vote-by-mail ballots not to turn those in to the post office. All such ballots must be turned in to their county elections supervisor’s main office or branch office by 7 p.m. in order to be counted.

Misinformation and disinformation, however, “continues to be an active threat,” she said.

“Do not believe everything you read or see on social media,” Lee said.

Accurate information regarding elections, precinct location and voting should be found on county elections supervisors’ websites.

Early results will be posted after 8 p.m. eastern time, after polls close in the Panhandle, at FloridaElectionWatch.gov, she said.

— LAWRENCE MOWER

This voter made a mistake. Don’t let this happen to you

Outside the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, Fatima, a Puerto Rican flight attendant, was wearing her all-black uniform and she was in tears.

She’s registered to vote in Orlando but Fatima, who declined to give her last name, thought she would still be able to cast a vote in Miami.

“I’m crying because I’m disappointed,” she said. “I really wanted to vote. This country needs a change.”

Election Day rules via the Florida Division of Elections mandate you must vote at your assigned precinct.

Can I vote anywhere on Election Day? Here’s how to avoid that mistake at the polls

Switching masks in Little Havana

As she left her polling site at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Little Havana, Sandra Rivas slipped off her black face covering and put on a colorful “Biden 2020” mask. She’d bought the Biden mask the night before at a 7-Eleven and wanted to wear it the day of the election. But she was weary about actually having it on while casting her ballot.

“I didn’t want to hear anybody’s comments. I thought I’m gonna do what I’m here to do and when I walk out and I’m done, it’s submitted, I’ll put the mask on and I’ll deal with whatever harassment I have to deal with. Because that’s all I’ve seen lately,” she said, referencing videos she’d seen on social media of Biden supporters being harassed.

“It weighs on you. You gotta be careful.”

Rivas, 37, is used to facing backlash over her political views. A Miami native, she grew up in a staunchly Republican family (her mother is Colombian, her father is Nicaraguan and her stepfather is Cuban).

“Everybody around me was Republican growing up,” she said. “I’m the black sheep of the family. They tell me I’m a socialist, I’m young, I’m naive. I’m brainwashed, I don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t know about history. I’m basically not allowed to talk politics. My comments are dismissed.”

Rivas explained her vote for Biden was a vote for civility in politics.

“For me respect is huge and I see a lot of that with him. He knows that he messed up in the past and obviously society is different but people change, they evolve. He knows what needs to happen,” she said. “He’s been our VP. He’s shown us what he can do. And if he wins he will be in the history books for two reasons. He was the VP to the first African-American president and now he is gonna be the president to the first female Black VP. That’s big.”

After casting her vote around 10 a.m., Rivas planned on going back home.

“I live right behind Versailles. I get to deal with the Trump events. That’s their spot. I might pass by there right now,” she said.

When asked, she said she was planning on keeping her Biden mask on.

— LAUTARO GRINSPAN

Early voter turnout strong in S. Florida

Miami-Dade and Broward counties are both reporting higher-than-expected turnouts as of 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Voters lined up before doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores.
Voters lined up before doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores.

Roberto Rodriguez, spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Elections Department, said 60,000 people had already cast their in-person vote. The county is expecting a total turnout of somewhere between 200,000 to 300,000 people.

In Broward County, the turnout was even stronger, where 66,000 people had voted, even though officials had estimated a total turnout of 100,000.

Read the story here.

Music and masks in North Dade

As polls opened at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Garden, music could be heard from inside and voters patiently waited outside, wearing masks and properly distancing themselves from each other.

Norman Lewis, a 21-year-old veterinary technician, said he woke up early because work had prohibited him from early voting.

“I didn’t want to do mail in because my parents talked me out of it. If you don’t have the same signature as the one in your file, they can’t use it,” he said.

This was Lewis’ first time voting in a presidential election and he still isn’t sure who to choose.

“I am a little bit nervous because this is the person that is going to be running our country for the next four years,” he said. “Most presidents say a lot of stuff to get votes, and none of it really comes true. So I’m honestly, I’m not too sure.”

A bit later, Linda Julien, a candidate for Miami Gardens city council Seat 5, was at the North Dade library. Although she’s worked in local government for 10 years, she said she is running for change.

“I really want to help shape the future of the city I live in,” she said. “I knew that there needed to be change and that if I wanted to see that change, I had to be it.”

Phillipa Zacca, a 43-year-old mother of four, was among the first to walk out after voting.

She said she owns real estate and is a stay-at-home mom. Voting went very well and everything was sanitized, she said. She is a registered Democrat and is excited to see her community come out and vote.

“We are all one under the sun,” she said. “Everyone is coming out. No division of race. Everyone wants everybody to come together. The president that we currently have is trying to divide us.”

— HELEN ACEVEDO/FIU

One immigrant’s view

Albero Cortes, 87, waited in line patiently Tuesday morning to vote at Coral Gables Congregational Church. A Republican of Colombian heritage, he was ready to vote for Donald Trump for the second time.

Formerly a director for an American bank, Cortes has been retired and living in Coral Gables with his wife since 1997.

His concern for health insurance was minimal, saying, “Because I am a senior I am covered by Medicare and my private insurance from the bank I used to work for.”

He supports Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration: “I am an immigrant, but I came to this country legally. I served this country. I have paid my taxes. I am not in favor of open-door immigration.”

He also shared Trump’s views on law and order.

“I am not in favor of the BLM [Black Lives Matter]. I am in favor of supporting the police. I think a lot of these controversial issues would have been prevented if people obeyed the police’s instructions.”

Though four of his close friends have passed away due to the coronavirus, Cortes does not agree with total shutdowns, citing their impact on the economy.

“I do not solely support Trump’s handling of corona, but I am truly fearful of the socialist agenda.”

— AMINAH ASAD/University of Miami

New Florida Majority campaign worker is concerned

By 11 a.m., there was virtually no line outside the E. May Avil North Miami Public Library, which had been jammed throughout early voting. Campaign worker Gail Jones of the New Florida Majority, a voting rights group, was concerned. “It is concerning that more people aren’t flooding the polling places,” Jones said. “We have been working really hard.”

Eric and Dania Beatrice brought their two daughters, Aina, 4, and Maia, 2, to wave signs and try to convince the few people showing up to vote for Biden.

As Aina shouted “Joe Biden!” Eric described how vital it is for his girls to see their parents engage in the election. “If they understand their voice is important from the start, they’ll continue that on with all the choices they make,” he said.

Eric Beatrice added that prior to the 2016 election, he was a registered Republican, but after Election Day, he became an independent.

“I switched parties because of what [Trump] represented,” he said. He recalls his wife crying after seeing the election results. “I could feel from the start how divisive he was and how he treated women and people. At that point I knew I didn’t want to be represented by him.”

— HELEN ACEVEDO/FIU

Here’s what Gov. Ron DeSantis thinks

President Donald Trump speaks during his ‘Make America Great Again Victory Rally’ at Opa-locka Executive Airport in Opa-locka, Florida, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during his ‘Make America Great Again Victory Rally’ at Opa-locka Executive Airport in Opa-locka, Florida, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.

In a Tuesday morning interview with Fox & Friends, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared confident that President Donald Trump will be in a good position to win Florida again.

“I think the president is much better positioned than he was in ‘16. And of course, he did win the presidency and win Florida in ‘16,” DeSantis said.

He pointed to the 108,143-ballot advantage Democrats had heading into Election Day, a smaller lead than they had going into Election Day in 2016.

“I think you are going to see a decisive Republican advantage today and I just think it is going to wipe out the very small advantage that the Democrats had going into Election Day,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis is also eyeing voter turnout in Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest county, as a major factor for the president’s reelection.

“You guys saw that rally in Miami-Dade County the other night. Massive crowd. That’s a place that the president underperformed in ‘16. I can tell people down there are juiced. Doesn’t mean he is going to win the county, but he is going to cut into that margin and that is tens of thousands if not 100,000 votes that could swing to the president because of his performance in Miami-Dade.”

— ANA CEBALLOS

‘A “Star Wars”-type situation’

Lily Silva, a 39-year-old Independent and mother of two small children, was in line Tuesday morning at the Coral Gables Country Club to cast her vote for President Donald Trump.

For the Realtor, it was about having people in government who support religious values, people who don’t take “God out of the government.”

“For me, that’s the main thing,’‘ said Silva, whose parents were born in Cuba.

Years ago, she had been a registered Democrat, but “things have gotten way out of hand,” she said, leading her to switch her voter registration to no party affiliation. She said she had planned to vote for former President Barack Obama when he ran in 2012 but there was an issue at the polls with her driver’s license and she couldn’t vote.

She likened today’s divisive political climate to a “ ’Star Wars’-type situation, where there’s bad and good. You can feel it.”

That said, she was hopeful Americans would unite as they go forward.

“As ugly as it has become, and it’s really gotten really ugly, we need to see past that and embrace each other for what we do have in common,” she said. “How to react less and think a little more.”

— JOAN CHRISSOS

How it’s going so far in Orlando

The Orlando Sentinel’s live updates feature that lines are small in Seminole County but steady. Not surprising given how many Floridians turned out for the two-week early voting period or voted by mail.

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And one married couple in Orlando differ on who gets their vote for president. But they worked it out.

“I think we respect each other’s politics. ... It’s probably what’s kept us together for over 30 years,” the wife said.

She’s for Biden. She’s for Trump. What happens when they stand side-by-side at a precinct?

Anne Smith, a Democratic volunteer (left) and Marissa Gutierrez, a Republican volunteer (right) hug it out at Calusa Elementary School in West Kendall, one of the community’s Election Day precincts on Nov. 3, 2020.
Anne Smith, a Democratic volunteer (left) and Marissa Gutierrez, a Republican volunteer (right) hug it out at Calusa Elementary School in West Kendall, one of the community’s Election Day precincts on Nov. 3, 2020.

In 2016, Calusa Elementary School in West Kendall was one of the busiest voting precincts in the county.

However this year, “it sure doesn’t seem that way,” said Anne Smith, a Democratic volunteer manning the post.

“I think everyone already voted,” chimed in Marissa Gutierrez, a Republican volunteer who stood beside her.

The duo — Smith, who is asking voters to vote for Biden, and Gutierrez, who pleaded that walk-ins cast their ballots for Trump — stood side by side, and even hugged each other a few times.

“We are all people first,” Smith said. “Yes I would never vote for Trump, but Marissa is exercising her right, just like I am.”

Gutierrez said she can’t vote in the election because she’s at the center of an immigration process, and that that’s why she’s asking people to “be my voice.”

“I don’t know much about politics but he supports the Venezuelan people,” she said as she handed out a Republican Party ballot recommendation flier. “We have lots of hope.”

Smith, also an immigrant but from France, said Biden is the only one on the ticket that “treats people like human beings.”

Venezuelan-born voter Maribel Villalobos, who walked in and out in less than 10 minutes, said she voted for “el rubio de America” — Spanish for “America’s blondie.”

“I didn’t vote personality, I voted policy,” she said. “He loves this country and I love him.”

Villalobos said “Trump is like fine wine. He will get better with time.”

“This four years will be better,” she said. When a reporter asked what she thought about Trump’s policies on immigration and the handling of the coronavirus, she said, “that’s complicated.”

“It’s like the relationship status section on Facebook: Complicated and messy.”

His family voted one way. He had to stand alone

Meantime, at the Calusa Elementary precinct in West Kendall, we met Pedro Martinez.

In the 2016 presidential election, Martinez said, he didn’t cast his ballot.

He said he didn’t think a vote would change anything and that he didn’t really “feel the urgency.”

“But this year? This year it’s life and death,” the 23-year-old said. “I had to come, there was no way I’d sleep at night if I didn’t.”

Martinez, who walked into Calusa Elementary School in Kendall as a Trump supporter, left the premises having cast a ballot for Biden.

“I don’t know what happened. It’s just, thoughts about the Black Lives Matter and social justice movement started swirling around in my head. Then came the images of Trump and his white supremacy. I just couldn’t vote for him.”

Martinez, a Cuban American, told the Herald his whole family voted for Trump.

“It’s the Cuban mentality: All Democrats are communists. But that’s just not true. To be honest, all I did was vote for the guy who I think will bring us peace for the next four years.”

Martinez said he’s pro law enforcement, “like Trump, but I’m also pro people of color and believe police brutality exists and that it should be investigated.”

— MONIQUE O. MADAN

Several viewpoints in Kendall Lakes

The 7 a.m. line at Kendall Lakes Library at 15205 SW 88th St. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
The 7 a.m. line at Kendall Lakes Library at 15205 SW 88th St. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

For 21-year-old Margarita Del Valle, waking up early is not a big deal. She gets up for CrossFit every day, so, on Election Day, she decided to stand in line at the Kendall Lakes Library, at 15205 SW 88th St.

She’s voting for the first time — and for President Trump.

“Because he’s going to make America great again,” she said.

At 7:01 a.m. the line before the small community library was starting to form and Jorge Salazar, 60, had his Macy’s maintenance uniform on.

For Salazar, President Trump holds the values he is voting for this year.

“I’m voting because of family principles,” he said. “Not because I consider myself a Republican or Democrat, but because Trump is against abortion, gay rights and is for Christian values.”

Salazar, a Colombian native who has lived in the U.S. for 40 years, planned to cast his vote before his work shift.

“Trump has made many mistakes,” he said. “But what I admire from him is his wish to end politician corruption at the White House.”

Elementary teacher Sabrina Gomez disagrees. The 28-year-old Dominican-born woman, who has been in Miami since she was 4, said she will vote for former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I don’t really agree with either candidate, but it is my duty to vote,” she said. “And I don’t want Trump to be the face of our country anymore.”

Gomez had been unsure about who to vote for and left it to the last minute.

“What I feel the strongest about is the $15 minimum wage amendment,” she said. “I don’t like the idea, this might be an unpopular opinion, but I think minimum wage jobs are usually for school and college kids and raising their salary will end up coming from our taxes.”

— MONICA CORREA/FIU

Lines moving in Miami Shores

Voters lined up before doors opened Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores.
Voters lined up before doors opened Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores.

About 50 voters waited in line during a brief flurry of activity as doors opened at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores. Voters flowed in and right out again after casting their vote. By 7:37 a.m. there wasn’t a line.

— EMILY MICHOT

What’s the weather like for election day?

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Upper Eastside residents vote at the park voting site on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Upper Eastside residents vote at the park voting site on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
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Express-lane voting

Approximately 50 voters waited in line during  a brief flurry of activity as doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020,  at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores. They flowed in and right out again after casting their votes and by 7:37 a.m. there was no longer a line.
Approximately 50 voters waited in line during a brief flurry of activity as doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the C . Lawton McCall Community Center in Miami Shores. They flowed in and right out again after casting their votes and by 7:37 a.m. there was no longer a line.

Campaigning for Trump in Cooper City

About 35 people were in line to vote before the doors opened at the Cooper City community center on Stonebridge Parkway.

Kyleigh Sprigle, 18, joined the back of the line just as the polling place opened at 7 a.m. to vote in her first election.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I drove three hours from college yesterday in order to vote for what I believe in.” Sprigle, who lives in Cooper City, attends Webber International University in Lake Wales.

Across the parking lot, just beyond the 150-foot demarcation line that keeps people who are campaigning at some distance from voters, a man who would not give his name sat with a loudspeaker and a microphone telling the voters why he supported President Donald Trump. He spoke in measured tones as he rambled through Trump’s achievements as president and mixed in historical references about the founding of the country in the 1770s.

A man who wouldn’t give his name uses a loudspeaker to campaign for President Donald Trump outside the polling place at the Cooper City community center on Stonebridge Parkway on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
A man who wouldn’t give his name uses a loudspeaker to campaign for President Donald Trump outside the polling place at the Cooper City community center on Stonebridge Parkway on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Even though the speaker was beyond the 150-foot boundary he was just about 50 feet from voters waiting in a long, socially distanced line to vote at one of the three precincts located in the community center.

On a normal presidential Election Day, there would have been many more people in line early and the parking lot would have been overflowing into the residential neighborhood. But more than 800,000 people have already voted in Broward County using mail ballots or early voting sites.

— DAVE WILSON

Polls are open

All polling places around Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties opened at 7 a.m. as planned, without any of the glitches (forgotten keys, locked doors, malfunctioning machines) that plagued the March primary election.

Due to the unusually high number of mail-in and early ballots, long lines at the polls are not expected to be a problem on Tuesday.

“We’re expecting an overall turnout of 80% of registered voters, and we’ve already received 64% of those ballots,” said Roberto Rodriguez, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Elections Department. “That means we should get another 16-20% turnout today, which means a total of somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people.”

The number of Election Day voters in Broward is expected to be even lower. Steve Vancore, spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, said the office had already logged and counted 833,000 out of an expected countywide total of 950,000 ballots.

“That means you’re talking 100,000 voters today,” Vancore said. “I’m calling this a low-turnout primary because there are already so many votes on the table.”

Anyone who failed to send in their mail-in ballot will not be able to turn it in at a polling station. Instead, their ballot needs to be dropped off at one of four designated places around Miami-Dade. Voters with mail-in ballots who show up at a regular polling place will have their ballots destroyed and asked to vote again in person.

Polls in Miami-Dade and Broward close at 7 p.m. Because of the high early voting, both counties expect to be able to share early results by 7:01 p.m.

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