Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI (CBS4) – As people voted hours after midnight on election night, Miami-Dade County leaders were scrambling to fix what had been days of chaos.
It is all detailed in emails CBS4 requested. The emails were sent during the first week of November between Miami-Dade’s Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley and Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak.
All oversaw the chaos that Hudak admits in one email were, “the hardest days of my career.”
The trail of paper starts off with compliments to staff for pulling off early voting. Soon after, complaints roll in.
There is a precinct without parking after someone denies people from parking in a FPL sway. “Folks are leaving,” an email reads.
Another one requests more equipment at Coral Reef Library and Aventura’s early voting sites. Townsley writes back that some changes are made at Coral Reef, but that Aventura “cannot physically hold any additional equipment.”
There are a series of emails requesting early voting be extended into Sunday. The mayor writes “this may be the beginning of an email campaign.”
Hudak ends up opening up absentee voting into Sunday. But it’s soon shutdown as the Mayor learns about it. They re-opened when voters became upset.
The following day Hudak takes heat in the media. She receives several emails of support.
“I am thinking of you and trust it will all work out” one read. “A terrible nightmare! Hang in there,” another added. “I am so sorry you are going through this. You did the right thing.” a friend writes. Hudak writes back thankfully and adds “Been a difficult two years.”
On election day at 8:48 a.m., Hudak writes staff about the opening.
“That all went extremely well this morning,” she said. She then details out what she expects the day to be like; at the end she writes “Pray for us!!!!!”
Less than a hour after that email went out, complaints came in announcing problems. A staff assistant for Senator Marco Rubio staff writes about precinct 792 where it is, “chaotic and disorganized.”
By the afternoon Hudak sends a blast email to elections staff.
“I am expecting that every piece of equipment we have is currently being deployed to the field.” she wrote. She then inquired about renting additional machines.
“Let me know what the game plan is. I’d like to brief the Mayor in about half hour,” she wrote. The mayor meanwhile was being booed at a Brickell precinct where he was apologizing for the long lines.
After a sleepless election night, Hudak wrote Townsley, “Penny, you will have to answer lots of questions about lines and the logic of your planning assumptions in the next couple of days.”
The emails conclude with the vote unofficially being turned in at 11:59 on Thursday night. Townsley, who hadn’t slept in days, writes she “has a date with her bed.”
The emails showed that the county was putting out fires all along the way. They also referenced an after action report, an analysis of everything that went wrong and solutions. It’s expected to be out next week.
CBS4 will have the results of that report as soon as they’re made available.