MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tuesday was the second day of early voting… and the early numbers are indicating a dramatic increase in voter turnout.
In parts of South Florida turnout is triple what we saw in the 2014 midterms. Turnout is contributing to small wait times at some precincts. It may be the ballots themselves though that is slowing voters down the most.
Many people may have made up their mind about who they are voting for.
Depending on where you live there are more than a dozen amendments on the ballot. It is complicated issues, especially if you have never seen it before getting in the voting booth.
At the Coral Gables library, there is a steady stream of early voters.
Many leave proudly showing off their stickers and a bit perplexed by their ballot.
It’s not the candidates that’s complicated but more than a dozen constitutional amendments regarding felon voting rights, victims’ rights, vaping, gambling, and off-shore drilling to name a few.
“It’s ridiculous. Thank God I had friends, I sat down with them and we reviewed it,” Lucy Pereda said.
She brought a sheet of paper with her answers in preparation.
Paul Sugrue said he too was surprised by the complex ballot: “I read the sheet before as preparation but I still had to re-read everything because the wording is real complicated.”
Zena Rodriguez, a teacher said that if someone does not do their homework prior to voting it could be an issue.
“Oh they are in deep trouble. They are in deep trouble,” she said.
Freddy Valle, voting for his second mid-term ever found the amendments to be tricky.
“Unless you’re familiar with all this jargon, and political jargon, you are going to end up confused. You might be voting against your own interest without knowing because it’s meant to mislead you,” Valle explained.
The last time we had this many amendment questions on the ballot was in 2012.
People took so long to fill out their ballots that voters stood in lines for hours. It led to angry mobs and lots of disappointment.
Miami-Dade’s Supervisor of Elections Christina White took one look at this year’s ballot and realized that they needed to do something to avoid a repeat of the 2012 election.
They tested the ballot on 100 people with different languages and knowledge of the amendments, to see how long it would take them.
What they found is it took them between 8 and 16 minutes, and on Monday Miami-Dade timed real voters.
“So, it’s taking folks about 13 minutes on the ballot. So, it pretty much was on par with our mock election testing,” Deputy Supervisor of elections Suzy Trutie said.
In response to the lengthy ballot, Miami-Dade added booths, equipment, and staff to keep things moving.
That said add in dramatic turnout and things could get interesting.
While it’s was only the first day… early voting on Monday showed double the amount of voters in Broward and triple in Miami-Dade compared to the last midterm in 2014.
High turnout and a lengthy ballot could create bottlenecks at precincts.
Broward Early Voting:
First day in 2014 – 6,459
First day in 2018 – 16,202
Miami-Dade Early voting:
First Day in 2014 – 4,828
First day in 2018 – 15,108
Rodriguez, the teacher, had done her homework. She filled out her sample ballot before coming to vote.
“I actually timed myself. It took from the moment I got here to the moment I left it took about an hour,” she said.
In the end, it wasn’t about her preparation, but everyone else who had not seen the ballot before.
Both Miami-Dade and Broward are trying to get as many people as possible to look at their ballot before going to the polls.
As lines build they are also handing out sample ballots for voters to review.
Since this summer, Trutie explained, they’ve been trying to educate as many people as possible.
“Radio, print, billboards, we are also doing mailing to every single household in Miami-Dade County, so you will receive a copy of the sample ballot,” she said.
For those thinking of waiting until Election Day, almost everyone we spoke to discouraged it.
“Don’t! Get yourself over here!” Rodriguez exclaimed.
Pereda said you could wait to vote, but you’ll pay for it.
“The lines are going to very long,” Sugrue agreed. “I wouldn’t wait! Early voting is so much better.”
Early voting goes on for 12 more days, including the weekends.
- For more on Campaign 2018, click here.
- For more voter information, FAQ’s and helpful links, click here.
- To see candidate interviews on CBSMiami.com, click here.
- Early voting locations in Miami-Dade
- Early voting locations in Broward County
- Early voting locations in Monroe County