MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Still dark out, just a half hour before polls opened, a line of people had already formed to cast their ballot on the first Saturday of the election’s early voting period.READ MORE: CVS, NAACP Team Up To Get COVID Vaccines To People Of Color In South Florida
“I couldn’t come during the week for early voting,” said Jesus, originally from Puerto Rico. “I waited for Saturday. And I don’t want to wait for longer lines.”
Fredrico Gonzalez has been in South Florida his entire life — and has never voted.
“I recently became a citizen when I married my wife,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary election. It may come down to the wire as it has before, and Florida, of course, is an important part of that decision.”
Judging from the numbers, there has been record turnout for early voting. At the time of publication, 164,014 early votes have been counted in Miami-Dade and 149,397 in Broward.
Whether sun or rain, absentee ballot or in person, many have their reasons for not skipping out on the election process.
“I like to put my vote in,” said one skeptical voter. “I don’t trust it.”READ MORE: Eye On Earth: 'One Of The Most Peaceful Places In South Florida': Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Trust was potentially broken earlier in the week when two women in Miami-Dade County were arrested in separate cases of election fraud.
The State Attorney’s Office said Gladys Coego, 74, an Election Support Specialist, bubbled in votes for Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado on absentee ballots that had originally left the mayor selection blank.
“One of my staff members saw she took a pen out of her purse, which was concealed, and bubbled next to a candidate’s name,” said Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Christina White.
Authorities said the evidence was easy to trace — Coego used a black pen to bubble in the unmarked ballots, whereas all of the other ballots were marked in blue ink.
Also arrested was Tomika Curgil, 33, who worked to register voters for United Care for Medical Marijuana. She was busted for submitting phony voter registrations, some of whom, were allegedly deceased voters.
“While disappointed by these incidents, I am very proud of the safeguard the elections department has in place to prevent these fraudulent attempts,” White said in a media statement.
The cases seem to be isolated incidents. Authorities have initially determined that Coego has no affiliation to Regalado or her campaign.MORE NEWS: Hundreds Benefit From Much-Needed Provisions At Miami Springs Food Distribution
Both women are facing 3rd degree felonies.