Early-Voting Row Causes Chaos in Florida

Dems sue to extend GOP-shortened voting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2012 2:50 AM CST
Early Voting Row Causes Chaos in Florida
Diana Camacho, left, chants "we want to vote," after the elections office in Miami-Dade County closed its doors to voters who waited in long lines for an absentee ballot.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

There were chaotic scenes outside Miami-Dade County election headquarters yesterday after voting was abruptly shut down as hundreds of people waited in line. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican, ordered a halt to voting after discovering that his deputy mayor had agreed to the election supervisor's request to allow voters to request and return absentee ballots for four hours, Miami Herald reports. The state's GOP-controlled legislature has eliminated early voting the Sunday before Election Day, but the law allows elections supervisors to accept in-person absentee ballots at their discretion.

Voters outside the headquarters banged on the glass and chanted "Let us vote" after the shutdown. After about an hour, Gimenez relented and allowed the angry crowd to vote. "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," he said. Before the Miami-Dade debacle, Florida's Democratic Party filed a lawsuit seeking to extend early voting after long lines Saturday prevented many people from casting their ballots, the New York Times reports. (Read more Election 2012 stories.)

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