Heeding the Call: South Floridians Voting Early and Aggressively

By Garth A. Rose

Photo via Sun Sentinel

South Floridians, judging from statistics sourced from the Florida Divisions of Elections (FDE), are heeding calls to vote early and are eagerly taking advantage of the mail-in option to cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential/general election. 

With election less than three weeks to go until November 3, 2020, two million of Florida’s 14 million registered voters had cast votes by returning mail-in ballots as of Wednesday morning, October 14. Those votes included 967,036 Democrats, 564,361 Republicans, and 363,746 without party affiliation.

Of the ballots returned throughout the state, 490,786 were returned in South Florida, where 169,347 were returned in Broward County, 142,136 in Miami-Dade County, with Palm Beach County leading with 179,303 returned ballots. Not surprisingly, in a region renowned for its Democratic Party leaning, the majority of ballots returned have been from registered Democrats.

The data indicates in Palm Beach County, 105,000 Democrats, 35,725 Republicans and 35,753 NPA voters returned ballots as of Wednesday morning. In Broward, while 106,690 Democrats returned ballots, only 27,372 Republicans and 33,835 NPA’s did so. The gap was narrower in Miami-Dade County where 72,608 Democrats returned ballots compared to 34,711 Republicans and 33,478 NPAs.

Although the data provided by the FDE does not categorize voters by ethnicity, CNW’s research though calls to known Caribbean-American registered voters indicated 73 percent of these voters requested and received mail-in ballots, and as of Tuesday, 61 percent of these voters have either returned the completed ballots by mail or dropped them off directly at the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) offices in the respective counties.

On visiting the Miami-Dade SOE office in Doral, Miami-Dade on Tuesday, CNW witnessed a caravan of vehicles with eager voters driving in to drop off their ballots at manned drop boxes outside the offices. An SUV with its speakers blaring Bob Marley’s “Get, Up, Stand Up. for Your Rights,” was laden with Caribbean Americans.

Caribbean American Robin Starr, the SUV’s driver, a resident of Homestead, some 33 miles from Doral, said she’s a furloughed flight attendant but “I have been using the time to get out the vote, making phone calls urging people to vote early, and encouraging those who received mail-in ballots to drop them directly at the Supervisor of Elections offices, and have volunteered to take voters to this office, making several trips over recent days, so they can drop off their ballots. These elections are too important to our future to sit idle. We must make America sane again.”

Most Caribbean-American voters contacted by CNW said they are committed to voting early, either by returning mail-in ballots or through early in-person voting which begins on October 19. Voters are motivated by concerns expressed liberally by political commentators that the outcome of the election may not be conclusive on the night of November 3. There is a belief, expressed by these voters, that the more people vote early, before November 3, the more possible it is the results of the elections will be known on election night.

While there are indications some voters have been taking their ballots directly to posts offices, or handing them to their mail personnel, most people are wary of their ballots being mishandled in the mail delivery process and expressed more confidence in dropping them off at SOE offices.

Some voters said while they have already completed their mail-in ballots, they are holding them to drop off at early-voting sites when these open on October 19 and thereafter.

Some voters, anxious to drop off their ballots, have attempted to drop them off at early voting sites, mostly libraries, although these sites are not yet opened. There are reports where voters dropped off ballots in return-book depositories at libraries. Where this happened, librarians returned the ballots to the voters, and posted signs instructing voters to return with their ballots during the dates of early voting.

Voters dropping off ballots at a SOE office must present an authorized ID like a driver’s license. SOE staffers manning the drop boxes check the envelope containing the ballots that they are signed and signatures match that on ID’s. The ballots are then stamped, placed in the dropbox, and voters are given an “I Voted” sticker.

Voters who vote by mail-in ballots can track if their ballots were received and counted though the relevant SOE websites. Several voters told CNW they already tracked their ballots and saw they were received and counted.

Voters who decide to return the ballots by mail must be aware the ballot will be rejected if the envelope is not signed, or not signed correctly.

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