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"Nightmare:" Long lines, mail-ballot glitches in South Florida early voting

From Miami Haitians to a Harvard student from Broward, voting early in South Florida — be it by mail or in person — is proving troublesome.

Some voters have yet to receive absentee ballots they requested weeks ago from Broward County’s elections’ office. Long lines have plagued several early voting sites, especially in Hollywood and Miramar.

In Miami-Dade, the lines have been even longer. Wait times range from 30 minutes to six hours. The North Miami library has had such long waits that Haitian-American advocates held a news conference Wednesday to protest the “disenfranchisement.”

In Aventura, police officers waved away potential voters who couldn’t find parking spots. A county commissioner resorted to enlisting a staffer, to shuttle voters by van from distant parking lots to the polls.

And Miami Gardens had such long lines that former Gov. Charlie Crist, a President Obama campaign proxy, appeared and urged his successor, Gov. Rick Scott, to extend the length of early voting hours countywide. Crist did that in 2008, helping Obama win Florida.

“You cannot believe the line out here right now, it’s phenomenal,” Crist said. Of extending the number of early-voting hours or days, Crist said: “It’s just the right thing to do.”

Scott, a supporter of Republican Mitt Romney, probably won’t extend in-person early voting, which ends Saturday night.

“We think that the hours we have right now are the best hours we’ve ever had,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida’s elections division, part of Scott’s administration.

Scott signed a law last year cutting early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, when heavily Democratic African-American voters held “souls to the polls” rallies, though the law guaranteed a Sunday of early voting. The law caps access at 12 hours daily, and a cumulative total of 96 hours. In 2008, voters had a cumulative 120 hours thanks to Crist’s executive order.

In general, Democrats favor early voting, and Republicans favor voting absentee.

Out-of-state voters are having problems, too, in getting their absentee ballots.

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