79ºF

Short lines at South Florida voting precincts, despite nasty gubernatorial race

Democrats hope Charlie Crist will help them dominate 2016 presidential battleground


MIAMI – Lines were short or nonexistent at South Florida voting precincts, as midterm election voters' enthusiasm was low and Washington gridlock fears were high.

Republicans were expected to take control of 12 of the 36 Senate elections and gain seats in the House to form what the Washington Post is calling the most dominant Republican Congress since 1929. Democrats were not giving up. They were clinging on to "get-out-the vote" campaigns and focusing on presidential battlegrounds.

photo

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie and Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho were some of the community leaders asking everyone who crossed their path to get out and vote.

Carvalho quoted Frederick Douglass on Twitter.

"I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."

Democrats hoped to take the Florida Governor's seat, as Hillary Clinton is expected to spend a lot of time in the swing state in 2016. But for most voters in South Florida, the race seems to have become about who they dislike less -- that is unless they are interested on legalizing marijuana and gay marriage.

Charlie Crist's law partner, John Morgan, spent millions to get an amendment to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott has been criticized for not asking Attorney General Pam Bondi to stop appeals on lifting the same-sex marriage ban.

"It's a shame that this has become so politicized," said Scott supporter Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez during This Week in South Florida with Local 10 News' Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg.

In the Democrats last push to regain control, Vice-president Joe Biden participated in a Sunday rally in Sweetwater. Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Kathy Castor were with Crist Tuesday. And President Barack Obama was in an advertisement that was airing on the radio.

"If you want a governor who will fight for you, not just the wealthy and the powerful go vote for Charlie Crist," Obama said.

Meanwhile, Scott -- one of the most disliked governors in the nation -- had the support of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio. On election day, his bus made stops in Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Pensacola and the last stop at Bonita Springs.

Scott also increased advertising in Spanish.

On social media, the tea party supporter promised less taxes and less debt.

"Florida is better off with Rick Scott as governor," one of the ads said in Spanish.

The most recent Quinnipiac University poll has Crist ahead of Scott by just one point. The race had both candidates spending $90 million on television ads alone.

Fred Menachem, of the Gray Zone political radio show, said that one of the reasons the race was so close was due to a general lack of interest in politics.  

"This has been one of the most negative and damaging campaigns in our history," Menachem said. "The system is no longer working and the average American is sick and tired of being sick and tired."

If Crist wins, it would be the Democratic party's first gubernatorial win in Florida in two decades.

Election authorities in Miami-Dade told Local 10 News' Andrew Perez that the estimated voter turnout was 35 to 40 percent. With some 7,200 poll workers in Miami-Dade, there appeared to be more poll workers than voters at some of the 812 polling locations.

Election authorities in Broward told Local 10 News' Jeff Weinsier that there were 240,00 absentee ballots that were processed and reported even before the polls opened. 

There were several issues in Broward. In Plantation, some ballots were incomplete. And in Southwest Ranches the registration machines were down for about 15 minutes.

LIVE UPDATES

Gov. Rick Scott's headquarters: Follow Glenna Milberg on Twitter

Charlie Crist's headquarters: Follow Ross Palombo on Twitter

Carlos Curbelo headquarters: Follow Carlos Suarez on Twitter

Joe Garcia headquarters: Follow Andrew Perez on Twitter

For Amendment 2: Follow Victor Oquendo on Twitter

There were also a few machines that were having technical issues in Miami-Dade.  Poll workers had several voters, who were unaware that during midterm elections voters have assigned precincts.

Authorities were asking voters to call 311 to verify the polling place where they were registered before heading out to vote.

In other parts of Florida, there were reports of long lines. In Naples' Golden Gate Community Center, the Naples Daily News was reporting that there were voters, who were leaving without voting to avoid waiting.

Voters need a picture identification with a signature to be able to vote. Some of the identification acceptable includes a debit card, student identification and public assistance identification.

And if there is a run-off on the race for Florida governor, officials said they were prepared.

COMPLETE COVERAGE | Election Day updates