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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It was a workday, a weekday, but that didn’t keep lines from forming at early voting places in South Florida, and absentee ballots by the box load being processed at elections offices. Across the state and in South Florida people are flexing their electoral muscle.
“Everyone has a voice, and it’s important go get out and vote and have your voice heard,” said Shannon Dewitt as he early-voted at the elections office in Doral.
“It’s my power. It’s my source of power in this country,” said Trevor Bazile, casting his ballot at the Miami-Dade administration building downtown. “That’s our opportunity to have our voices heard.”
Voices are ringing out. More than 1.2 million Floridians have voted early or absentee, about 56% Republican, 44% Democrat. In Broward County more than 81,000 people have already cast absentee or early vote ballots. The total in Miami-Dade County is more than 131,000. In Monroe County, about 2,288 have voted early with about 5,527 having returned their absentee ballots.
Because Florida’s is a “closed” primary, only Republicans and Democrats may vote – independents are left out.
Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Christina White said the county is on track for a record turnout, with early voting and absentees running about 20% heavier now than at the same time in the 2008 presidential primary.
As the presidential primary race heats up and all eyes are on Florida. Candidates are campaigning hard for the winner take all state – with millions-worth of attack ads.
The next Republican and Democratic debates are also going down in Miami ahead of Election Day.
Voters in Miami-Dade can vote early until March 13th. Click here for early voting locations.
In Broward County, early voting lasts until March 13th. Poll are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here to find early voting locations.
In Monroe County, voters can cast their early ballot until March 12th. Early voting locations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Click here to find early voting locations.
If you’re voting early, remember it probably won’t be at your usual precinct. Miami-Dade and Broward have each established 20 early voting sites.
You can pick a site most convenient for you. If you’re voting absentee, your ballot has to reach the elections office by Tuesday.
White says it’s very important to completely blacken in the “bubble” next to your candidate’s name for the ballot to be counted. And signature counts.
“Make sure you sign within the red box, and you’re signing with your most up to date signature,” White said of the absentees. “We need to compare your signature on file to what you’ve signed on the ballot to accept it as valid.”
If you’re voting on Election Day, you need to get to the right place and don’t come empty-handed.
“Make sure you check your voter information card for your most up to date voting location. Some precincts have changed,” White said. “Make sure you bring a photo ID with you that contains your signature.”
Not registered to vote? It’s too late for next Tuesday, but you can sign up for the general election as late as October 11th.
If you are voting the more traditional way, at your precinct next Tuesday, the polls open at 7 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. If you’re in line at closing time, you will be allowed to vote.