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This Is How The Election Day Looked Like In South Florida

WLRN reporters visited precincts in Palm Beach, Broward , Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties  from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. These are the people and stories that they found along the way. 

Quiet end of the day
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Credit Rebekah Entralgo / WLRN
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All but one polling booth closed at 6:45 pm due to low attendance at the precinct located at the West Dade Regional Library.

The West Dade Regional Library had solid 2-3 hour long lines during the 2012 presidential election, but in 2016? Poll workers closed up all but one polling booth with 15 minutes left to vote due to slow turnout.

"Today was very slow, most people voted early," said poll worker Delia Martinez, who has been at the library since 5:30am.  

Martinez also noted they had to turn away many last minute voters because they were not registered in that particular precinct. "During early voting, people from everywhere could come vote here. From Hialeah, from South Miami, from wherever," she said. "But on Election Day, some people do not know you have to go to their assigned precinct."

First time in the polls
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Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN
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First time voter, Laura Saldívar

Laura Saldivar voted for president for the first time and felt like the rest was hard because there was so much on the ballot. She said it felt like it took her forever  to google everything in the booth.

She said she was still confused about solar Amendment 1, but strongly supported the Medical Marijuana Amendment 2.

She had just moved to Florida when the last medical marijuana amendment was up for vote and didn't vote, so she said she needed to make sure it passed this time.

Friends for a lifetime, now on opposite camps

Raquel Real and Maria Cariaga have been friends "for a lifetime" but Tuesday afternoon found them having a tiff in front of the John F. Kennedy Library in Hialeah. 

- Yo voy por Trump, que es el único que dice la verdad [I am going for Trump because he is the only one that says the truth]

- Ese es un loco, chica, lo que te hace falta es relajarte [He is crazy, you need to relax]

- No, lo que yo quiero es que tu votes por Trump [No, what I need is for you to vote for Trump]

- Pues no. Yo voto por ella porque quiero a este país [No. I am voting for her because I love this country]

Can't Trust Hillary Clinton
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Credit Nan Klingener / WLRN
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Paul Ollariu of Stock Island said he was voting for Donald Trump.

Paul Ollariu of Stock Island said he was voting for Donald Trump.

He was undecided but "at the very end I just couldn't trust Hillary," he said.

Ollariu added that the presidential election was the one that mattered to him on this ballot. 

Tom Noeker, a boat builder, also lives on Stock Island.

He said he waited to vote on Election Day because "I wanted to hear the last of the arguments."

Noeker said he voted for Trump because "Hillary's been very corrupt and I just don't believe in her or her foundation or her husband or any of that crap."

A unique tourist destination
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Isis Berry went with her son and husband wanted to start their trip to the United States visiting a real voting precinct.

Isis Berry, her husband and her baby arrived from México on Tuesday morning and went straight to an election poll. "We came down from the plane and asked the people at the car rental company where we could go to see how Hispanics vote. They sent us here and to Versailles," said the 29 years-old entrepreneur from México. 

With baby Franco barely awake, the couple walked around the John F.Kennedy Library in Hialeah to soak in on the ambiance and take pictures of the electoral signs. "We are from Mexico, from the Mayan Riviera, so we are following the U.S. elections closely. We had to come and see how the election go," said Berry. 

When asked if they saw differences between how the election is seen in Mexico and in Florida, Berry said "In México, there is a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton. Here we have heard so much about Donald Trump!"

Broward Election Clerks Fired After Argument

Two Broward precinct workers were fired and asked to leave their precinct Tuesday for not adhering to policy.

Tonya Edwards, spokeswoman for the Broward supervisor of elections, confirmed that two precinct clerks were fired around 12 :30 p.m. from the Herb Skolnick Center in Pompano Beach. The clerks have been replaced.

“They wouldn’t adhere to our policies and procedures so they had to be let go,” she said

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article113288008.html#storylink=cpy
-Via Miami Herald (read more here)

Taking This Election To The Courthouse Steps--After Unrelated Arguments
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Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez can't help but bring up the election today while doing other things

Today, the City of Miami asked the U.S. Supreme Court for the ability to sue big banks over predatory loans. Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez was there for the oral arguments and had this to say afterwards (if you forgot its also election day):

“Putting aside anyone’s personal feeling about the election… I left with a sense that this issue was debated at its highest level and I felt very comfortable and confident that we were going to get to the right decision. It made me feel very good about our judicial branch. It made me feel very good about the way some of our government functions and I wasn’t really expecting that. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, that sense of pride.”

Too Young To Vote, Not Too Young To Engage In The Election
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14-year-old Leandra Hall and her Girl Scout troop gave out cookies to voters.

At 14 years old, Leandra Hall is too young to vote. But the member of Miami Beach’s Girl Scout Troop 1239 found other ways to engage in the election.

“We’re out here supporting people who vote and giving them cookies and stickers for coming out and voting for something so important today,” said Hall. “Everyone gets so happy, it’s like a little reward for them for coming out to vote.”

Marice Cohn Band is the leader or, as she says, "den mother" of Troop 1239. This morning, they were handing out cookies and Girl Scout edition "I voted" stickers at Precinct 24 at Nautilus Middle School in Miami Beach. There was hardly a voter in sight—just one every few minutes.

“It’s unusually calm here: I think a lot of people voted early, because this is my precinct and this is not normal,” said Cohn Band. “We were worried—we had only three cases, which is not a lot of cookies…. In Publix, they’d be gone in 5 minutes.”

For Political Sign Maker, The Race Begins After The Election
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Barbara Stuart makes political signs

Barbara Stuart has been making up yard signs for 46 years with her printing business, American Political Signs, in Hollywood—and her race starts after the election.

Candidates have 10 days to take down the signs or else they could be fined. That means Stuart or one of her employees has to go from Key West to Belle Glade to collect them.

But she loves it.

“It’s fun,” said Stuart, “like after today, where’s the excitement?”

Stuart got her start after she and her husband moved next door to a former mayor of Sunrise, who introduced them into the political arena. She started making signs for him, and now she prints yard signs, billboards, and mailers for dozens of South Florida races—Joe Garcia, Alcee Hastings, Tim Canova and lots of judges races.

She says countywide candidates usually get about 1000 yard signs, more for judges races.

“If people don’t see a sign with a name, it’s a sign of no candidate,” said Stuart. “You know, you’re sitting at a traffic a lot… and you’re seeing names and some people tell me that they’ll even investigate some of these names and see who they really want to vote for.”

Part of why she’s so popular is because she’ll not only put the signs up for candidates, but she also will take them down after the race.

“You know, a volunteer will put up the sign and then forget about it, especially if they don’t win,” said Barbara with a laugh.

Her secret to a good sign? Good colors. She particularly likes a colorful background with plain letter, she says it makes the name pop.

A Woman And Her Dog Want To Know: Where Are The Lines?
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Finn went to the polls with his owner to people watch, but there were no lines at Miami City Hall.

Laura McPherson took her dog for a walk to people-watch at what she expected to be long voting lines. 

But McPherson, who voted early, and her dog Finn were disappointed.

A slow trickle of voters made their way into Miami City Hall against a picturesque backdrop of palm trees swaying and sailboats out in the bay. There was no waiting line in sight. 

McPherson said in the 1970s she participated in The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) marches which guaranteed that women would have the same rights as men. 

Her choice for president is Hillary Clinton.

"Hillary is very well qualified and Mr. Trump is not," said McPherson.

Florida Keys Voter Says No To GMO Mosquitoes
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Davide Gallagher, 65, of Key West.

 After Dennis Gallagher, 65,  voted Tuesday, he attached his "I Voted" sticker to his bike seat.

Gallagher is a retired carpenter who lives in Key West.

He said he voted against the proposed trial of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Keys. 

"I'm not real big on messing with Mother Nature," he said. "I know it's necessary sometimes, but yeah, I thought there could have been more research done on it."

The GMO mosquito vote is a nonbinding referendum. The ultimate decision is up to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board. Three of the five seats on that board are also up for election today

For more WLRN stories on GMO mosquitoes click here.

Police And Pastelitos At The Polls
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Broward Police Benevolent Association stationed outside of Coconut Creek poll with pastelitos.

Coconut Creek Police Sgt. Kirk Carlson was out with the Broward Police Benevolent Association handing out the PBA's endorsements to voters.

He also came with tasty and flaky treats: pastelitos.

Between handing out fliers to passing voters he said there is a common misconception about police and their preferred sweets.

In South Florida, it's not doughnuts. Pastelitos all day.

Voters Cast Morning Ballots, Short Lines
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Elizabeth Gaitan

Elizabeth Gaitan was an early riser and she was among the first few to cast a ballot at Fire Station No 2. She was done voting in less than 15 minutes.

At the David Park Community Center in Hollywood most voters were also in and out fairly quickly.

As of 7:45 a.m. about 50 people waited in line, many with campaign literature and sample ballots in hand.

Gilberto Amador, 49, an eighth grade teacher said he was pleased with the seamless process and called it easy.

He voted for Hillary Clinton for president and Patrick Murphy for the Senate seat.

Rather than hone in on one specific issue, he said good leadership was what was most important to him. 

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Leonie Williams, a West Palm Beach voter, said she waited to cast her ballot on Election Day.

  

Leonie Williams, 51, was  the first to cast her ballot at the Adult Education Center polling location at Okeechobee Boulevard and Military Trail in West Palm Beach.

While Florida leads the nation with 6.4 million early votes, Williams purposefully waited to vote today.

"I wanted to come on Election Day," she said. "I don't trust early voting."

Waiting For Polls To Open

Minutes before the polls opened in Palmetto Bay the line at HolyRosarySaint-Richard Catholic Church was at just over a dozen people. 

With a record number of Floridians participating an early-voting,  some are hoping this is an indication that the the discouraging long lines of 2012 will not affect this presidential election. 

Poll workers at the precinct handed out Krispy Kreme coffee to voters in line, but no doughnuts. The doughnuts were reserved for the poll workers.