Voting in Brickell takes some 7 hours

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez arrives at location to hecklers, angry voters

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - The wait for voters at a polling location in Miami's Brickell neighborhood grew to a staggering seven hours on Election Day.

By cut-off at 7 p.m., more than a hundred restless voters stood in line at the polling location at 1809 Brickell Avenue knowing they may not cast a ballot until after midnight. 


Miami-Dade County Elections Department spokeswoman Carolina Lopez did not know about the wait until Local 10's Christina Vazquez called her.

Lopez checked with staff and told Local 10 the wait is so long because several precincts are reporting to the same location.

Lopez said they use census data to determine polling locations and precinct grouping. Even though the 2010 Census information had come back indicating tremendous growth in this area in the past decade, Lopez said the determination was made not to make a change in fear that it would prompt confusion.

Instead is created mass frustration. Voters told Local 10 they found the Elections Department's explanation to be ludicrous. They believe there was ample time to make adjustments using the 2010 Census figures.

Just before the polls closed, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez arrived to hecklers and angry voters. Vazquez asked him to respond to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department's explanation for the extraordinary long wait times.

Gimenez said he was looking into it. He doesn't know who made the decision, he said, to place several precincts at one location but vowed to make sure that person is held accountable and that it wouldn't happen again.

That is too late for the voters who stuck it out for hours or others, like Michael Klein, who decided to walk-off in a huff. Local 10's Tamika Bickham said it took her six hours to vote.

Gimenez told Local 10 he was calling in extra poll workers from other locations to help speed up the process. He believed this was the worst location in all of Miami-Dade County and said there were simply not enough poll workers to facilitate the number of voters.

There were earlier reports from voters of machines not working at this location. Lopez told Local 10 that is not the case. Certain scanners can only be used by certain voters since the ballots are slightly different depending on their district.

Late Tuesday, 13 additional staff members, including the deputy supervisor of elections, were sent to the Brickell location.

The Miami-Dade Elections Department reported 98 percent of precincts were closed at 11 p.m. About 300 people were waiting in line to vote. Anyone who was in line at 7 p.m. must be allowed to cast a ballot under state law.

Election officials expect to have a final tally in Miami-Dade County by Wednesday afternoon. The department received 18,000 absentee ballots on Tuesday.

Voters finish casting ballots in Broward County

As of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, all precincts closed in Broward County.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes said the long ballot and likely record turnout contributed to the long lines. The same number of poll workers as in 2008 were used this year.

"We don't put an election together to torture voters by having them standing in line. Some time when the volume increases, elections are not a perfect science. There's no way to know how many people are going to show up," said Snipes.

As of late Tuesday, 30,000 absentee ballots still needed to be counted in Broward County.

Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.