Miami elections office overwhelmed by early voters: ‘This is not Cuba’

The Doral elections headquarters in Miami-Dade County shut its doors early on Sunday, overwhelmed by a long line of people waiting for absentee ballots. The office reopened an hour later as voters chanted and protested outside the building. 

Officials blamed a lack of staff and equipment for the closure, but the Miami Herald reports that it had more to do with politics. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez never signed off on in-person absentee voting. When he found out that Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak had signed off on it, after a request from the elections department, he moved to stop the voting. (Thanks to a post office glitch, some voters had not gotten their absentee ballots in the mail yet.)

Gimenez, a Republican in a non-partisan post, moved to shut the voting down. But hundreds of people stayed outside, demanding to be let in, and he changed his mind. 

“I’m upset at this change, but at the end, when you have 200, 300 voters out there ready to go, you really can’t disenfranchise them,” the mayor told the Herald, adding that he was "certainly embarrassed" by the way the situation unraveled. 

Gov. Rick Scott (R) eliminated early voting (different from absentee in-person voting) on the Sunday before election day and cut the maximum number of early voting days from 14 to eight. Over the weekend, there were long lines to vote all over the state. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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