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Florida’s Primary Elections, Miami Restricts Feeding the Homeless, ‘Black Widow’: Finding Humor In Grief

South Florida voter wearing a face mask and gloves holds up an "I voted" sticker.
Miami Herald
Celia Suman in Miami Shores participates in the Florida Primary while wearing a face mask and gloves.

We're taking a look at what you need to know for Tuesday's primaries. Plus, a new law in Miami puts restrictions on charities trying to feed homeless people. And Sundial's Book Club author for August tells us about dealing with grief through humor.

On this Tuesday, Aug. 18, episode of Sundial:

Florida’s Primary Elections Today

For the past several months, candidates have been forced to campaign online due to COVID-19. A record number of votes by mail ballots have been requested and returned this August, as many choose to avoid their polling places.

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“There are so many reasons why it makes sense to get that ballot to us as soon as possible, one of them is because in Florida now the law says if you forget to sign or your signature doesn’t match we have to notify you of that and give you an opportunity to cure your ballot. So it’s essentially giving you a second chance at it,” said Christina White, Miami-Dade County’s Supervisor of Elections.

Miami-Dade has seen a received a record number of vote by mail ballots for the August primary, usually there's between 15-20 percent voter participation and this year is close to 30 percent. Sundial host Luis Hernandez asked White about concerns surrounding the USPS and its ability to process these requests.

"When I hear the media covering what's happening with the Post Office. I realize what I should be telling our voters, 'you really don't need the Post Office.' Going into November, we are going to have 33 early voting sites and you can drop your ballot off at anyone of those sites during the early voting period and you don't even have to get out of your car."

White later clarified if you're unable to get to an early voting location, you should get your vote-by-mail ballot in sooner rather than later to make sure your vote is processed.

We spoke with White, as well as with Miami Herald reporter Doug Hanks, to take a closer look at today’s historic election.

Miami Puts Restrictions On Feeding Homeless People

In late June, the City of Miami passed a law that has some homeless activists up in arms.

The ordinance restricts when and where charities can feed vulnerable communities.

Under the new law, those who wish to feed groups of homeless people are limited to providing only one feeding per week, within five designated locations and will need to meet a number of requirements. If they fail to do so they can be fined up to $500.

Man with bags of food walks through a homeless encampment in South Florida.
Courtesy of Suleiman Yousef
Suleiman Yousef volunteers on his own to bring food and essentials to homeless people in South Florida.

The city says these restrictions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19, although advocacy groups and the ACLU have concerns that it may actually worsen the issue of homelessness and food insecurity.

“This will have an impact on the majority Black homeless encampments that are located in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. It will have a huge impact on the disabled population,” said David Peery, the chair of the advocacy committee of the Camillus Health Concern Consumer Advisory Board, which is an organization that provides health and social services to vulnerable communities.

“It’s effectively going to create a humanitarian crisis of hunger among the poor, among the incredibly vulnerable population of individuals who are forced by poverty to live on city streets.”

We spoke with Peery about the ramifications he thinks the law will have in South Florida’s homeless community.

Sundial’s August Book Club Pick: Black Widow

Sundial’s August Book Club selection is Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like Journey in the Title.

Leslie Gray Streeter, a former Palm Beach Post columnist, details the struggle of overcoming the grief of losing her husband suddenly while fighting to adopt her son, all with a sense of humor.

“I hope that he can read particular parts about Scott and about who Scott was because it's so unfair that he died when Brooks was two [years old] ... that to me is so freaking unfair, God and I are still not cool with each other about that, " said Streeter about her son one day reading her book.

We spoke with Streeter about her book and her experience of mixing grief with humor.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.