Extended early voting hours in Miami marked by long lines, office shutdown
Extended voting hours at the Miami-Dade County Elections Office in Florida led to angry voters when the office temporarily shut down an hour into the four-hour voting window for absentee ballots.
According to The Miami Herald, elections officials closed the office, citing a lack of staffers and printing materials, leaving about 180 voters in line by 2 p.m. local time, prompting a chant of “let us vote!” before officials brought in more personnel and another ballot printer and resumed operations, allowing voters in line by 5 p.m. to receive their absentee ballots.
“This is America, not a third-world country,” one voter said during the shutdown. “They should have been prepared.”
The county opened its office Sunday following a judge’s emergency ruling early Sunday morning. State Democrats filed a lawsuit late Saturday night asking for the extended hours after receiving complaints of abnormally long lines from voters during the day, and one office being temporarily shut down over concerns about a suspicious package.
In September, a federal judge upheld a law backed by Governor Rick Scott (R) to eliminate regular voting on the Sunday before the presidential election date of Nov. 6, a date traditionally favored by African-American voters.
WFOR-TV reported that absentee voting was also opened up Sunday in Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties. Broward County officials said they would fulfill absentee ballot appointments Monday. All absentee ballots must be turned in by Tuesday evening to be counted.
Update: Watch a report from NBC Nightly News on the extended voting period in Florida, aired Sunday, below.
[Image via WPLG-TV on Twitter]