South Florida voters head to polls to elect next governor, settle other issues

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Voters across the state are casting their ballots and electing a new governor and voting on a host of other positions and amendments.

People packed the polls in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Station 69 in Doral is one of many polling places that saw a steady stream of voters throughout the morning. Helen Yanez was one of the first voters there.

“The early bird catches the worm, so I wanted to be sure I didn’t catch myself in a very long line,” Yanez said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the number of voters who voted early or mailed in their ballots was so high he was hopeful those who chose to vote on Election Day wouldn’t have to wait long.

Many said for them it was in and out.

“It was easy, it was fast and not a problem whatsoever,” said voter Daniel Ordonez.

“Pretty quick, easy, everybody was friendly. I was one of the first ones in and got out pretty quick,” said voter Brigette Guerra.

Miami-Dade County saw record voter turnout before Election Day – especially in the last few days of early voting. About 15,000 people voted on the first day of early voting whereas on the last day, 40,000 people cast their ballots.

Broward also saw an increase in early voters overall, with over 299,000 people participating.

“We’ve seen the participation almost double, or it has doubled in some instances, as in 2014, say as an example for early voting, we only had 144,000 folks to vote early,” said Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. “We just feel a certain kind of energy and enthusiasm. Folks are just turning out.”

In Weston, there were little to no lines at a few polling stations. Much of the complaints were directed toward the lengthy ballot.

“It’s very wordy, so I’m glad that I took the time beforehand to research,” voter Gina Reichenbach said.

For Martin Barye, voting isn’t just a responsibility. It’s personal.

“I served in the military, so I’m proud to say that that’s a right we all fought for,” he said.

The momentum brought tears to Barye’s eyes as he stood beside his 10-year-old daughter outside a polling station in hopes to inspire her to vote when she turns 18.

“It’s important to see people’s opinions, and what they think,” Sofia Barye said.

Many in Miami-Dade said their vote was incredibly important for this election.

“We the people, determine the future of this country by doing these rights,” said one man.

“I think voting is very important and this election is going to determine many things, including local and state decisions that are vital to how we are going to move forward in the future,” said one woman.

Lines wrapped around a church in Brickell as voters endured hot temperatures and long wait times.

“There’s a lot at stake in Florida,” voter Jeffrey Shaw said. “It should be a really pivotal state.”

First timers and seasoned voters all flocked to the polls, excited to exercise their rights.

“I felt like I was doing my part,” first time voter Daniela Gil said.

“I believe it’s a very important election,” voter Dayana Turbides added.

County election officials said they expect a good turnout by the time polls close.

“We expect about a 10 to 20 percent voter turnout today,” Miami-Dade Elections Department Robert Rodriguez said, “which will put us at the end of the day at 50 to 60 percent. Which is great numbers.”

At Florida International University, an organization called NextGen Florida shuttled students to the polls in an effort to get younger voters involved.

“Over 100 people have signed up for rides to polls with us, and usually young people don’t turnout,” NextGen Florida’s William Bravo said. “Usually, young people don’t turnout, so that’s why the importance is on young people.”

In Broward, voters shared similar sentiments.

“I always think it’s important to get out and vote,” said Marilyn Steele. “It’s not something that is a choice; it’s something that has to be done.”

“This one is especially a lot more important because there’s so much hate around,” said Chandler Thompkins.

Voters also voiced their enthusiasm at the end of political ads dominating the media.

“I cannot wait for it to be over!” Thompkins said.

“We’ve been waiting for tomorrow, OK? And I hope we don’t start with 2020 tomorrow,” Steele said.

According to election officials, a record-breaking near 300,000 people voted early in Broward.

Printing issues were reported at two Miami-Dade locations during early voting. However, no issues have been reported in Miami-Dade or Broward counties so far on Election Day.

Elections officials said to vote, you need to be in line with a photo ID by the time the polling locations close at 7 p.m.

Voters also recommend that voters take a look at their sample ballots ahead of time.

Mail-in-ballot results are expected at 7:15 p.m. Early voting results are expected to be posted at 7:30 p.m. After that, precincts will be reporting Election Day results every 30 minutes.

As of 5 p.m., 150,000 voted in Broward today, bringing the total to 623,000.

As of 6 p.m., 220,000 people voted in Miami-Dade today, bringing the total to 776,000.

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