Miami-Dade Elections: 'We Are Prepared' Despite Early Voting Debacle (VIDEO, PHOTOS) [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Miami Voter: 'I've Never Had This Much Of A Problem Voting'

MIAMI -- On Monday morning voters again flocked to Miami-Dade Elections headquarters in Doral, turning one lane of traffic into a parallel parking zone after overflow lots filled up. While some were waiting in line for the first time, others were waiting to vote again -- and questioning the process.

“I think it’s high time that the voting process be modernized,” Joseph Gomez of Coral Gables told The Huffington Post. “This is so archaic, this process ... as far as I’m concerned it’s ridiculous.”

Armed with an affidavit, Gomez was standing in line for a second time to get an absentee ballot for his son, who is studying at American University in Washington, D.C. Although his son had requested an absentee ballot twice, on Oct. 5 and Oct. 15, he said it never arrived after either request.

Emilka Danielczyk was in line for the third time this week, still trying to cast her vote. She said she originally requested an absentee ballot, which never arrived, so she waited in long lines in Aventura twice before finally canceling all her appointments on Monday to ensure she wouldn't have to leave again.

“We’re in an age where we can vote for American Idol on a television screen,” Danielczyk said, adding that she has voted in presidential elections in Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico in the past with ease. “I have never had this much of a problem voting.”


Despite the hurdles of early voting, Miami-Dade officials insist all 829 precincts will be ready for voting on Tuesday.

"I'd like the voters of Miami-Dade County to be confident that we are prepared to serve them tomorrow," said Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley Monday morning outside the department's Doral headquarters.

Townsley's assurance comes the morning after chaos erupted outside the department when it closed its doors early on nearly 200 voters in line to cast in-person absentee ballots Sunday afternoon -- then reopened an hour later after protests.

The department advertised an extra four-hour window to cast in-person absentee ballots after early voting lines as long as eight or nine hours failed to move Governor Rick Scott (R) to extend early voting as had his predecessors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.

But the understaffed office was quickly overwhelmed, and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) ordered the office to shut down when he learned it was offering additional hours of voting without his approval.

"The mayor was not informed of this decision until Sunday, he asked that we suspend the operation until he was fully briefed," Townsley said, according to NBC6. "At the same time, were were experiencing operational difficulties including not enough resources."

("I should have told him," Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak told CBSMiami, admitting she signed off on the idea. "I made a bad call.")

Though the office reopened an hour later after chants of "Let us vote!" reached a national audience, the debacle was just the latest hurdle for early voters who have waited hours in long lines from Monroe to Palm Beach.

Despite the excessive wait times, 32 percent of Miami-Dade voters have already cast ballots in advance of Election Day, said spokeswoman Christina White.

This story has been updated to include reporting from the polls.

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