Printer problems tie up final day of early voting at 2 Miami-Dade polls

NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - Voters at two early voting locations in Miami-Dade County found themselves waiting in line for hours after printers used to print out ballots broke down.

7News captured a long line snaking out of the North Miami Public Library station, Sunday afternoon.

Frustrated voters were forced to wait for hours while the machines were repaired on the last day they could vote before Tuesday’s midterm elections.

“I had been standing in line to vote for at least three hours,” said Loretta.

“The machines had just stopped printing,” said elections volunteer Veronica Matzner.

“An hour went down, two hours went down,” said volunteer Suzie Stephan. “People were just sitting there, and technicians were trying to make things happen.”

Volunteers, poll workers, officials and voters said the issues started at around 11 a.m.

“The process was going smooth, and all of a sudden we saw everybody just stood up, and the line wasn’t moving,” said Stephan.

Officials said printers also malfunctioned at the William F. Dickinson Community Center in Homestead.

7News learned that once the printers went down, officials used pre-printed backup ballots meant for this exact situation.

The Miami-Dade County Elections Department issued a statement that reads in part, “The Miami-Dade Elections Department did experience some printer issues earlier in the day. The problem was resolved quickly, did not impact any early voting today.”

But that’s not the way those in North Miami saw it.

“Totally disagree with that,” said Matzner.

Many on hand said the issue wasn’t resolved until around 6 p.m., an hour before the polls were scheduled to close.

“Sometimes things break down because we have a record turnout,” said Stephan, who then addressed other voters using a bullhorn. “We have a record turnout. Amen! Record turnout!”

The printers might have gone down, but not the voters’ spirits.

“They didn’t have no problems,” said volunteer Gertrude Joseph. “I just gave them some water and some candy bars. Nobody complained; they just waited.”

“Everybody is eager to vote and willing to stay in line, so that’s a good thing,” said a voter.

In the long lines, voters stayed busy and upbeat. Some even took part in a silent disco while they waited.

Equipment error excuses excluded, strong turnout led to long waits elsewhere across South Florida.

7News cameras showed a long line at the Miramar Library, as voters tried to get ahead of the midterm election crowds.

“Early voting is best because then you get it out of the way,” said a voter, “and you know your vote counts, and you can go to work and not have to stand in line on Tuesday.”

Officials urged those voters who left because they were unable to wait in line to come back on Tuesday to cast their ballots.

So far, over 5 million people either voted early or voted by mail.

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