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Early voting begins slowly in South Florida

With the field of Republican candidates down to four, GOP voters trickled to the polls on the first day of early voting in South Florida with plenty of opinions about their choice to challenge President Barack Obama in November.

Many said they were deciding between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in what has been a rollercoaster race.

Romney is ahead in Florida, with more than 40 percent of GOP supporters, followed by Gingrich with 22 percent, Sen. Rick Santorum with 15 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 9 percent, according to an average of poll results compiled by

At the busy West Dade Regional Library on Coral Way in Westchester, Julio Pallais, 71, said he cast his vote for Gingrich — but only after much consideration.

The retired private security guard from Nicaragua said he was leaning toward Romney earlier in the race but reversed course over Romney’s stance on illegal immigration.

“He has changed positions,” said Pallais, who came to South Florida 25 years ago. “There are illegal immigrants here who have been here for years, who have children and grandchildren here ... you shouldn’t tell them to leave.”

In Broward, Joy Diamond cast her ballot at Pompano Beach City Hall early Saturday morning.

She said Romney got her vote because she was concerned about Gingrich’s age, 68, and “not to mention his checkered background.”

More from Christina Veiga and Amy Sherman here.