November 11, 2016

With state order, machine recount for Asencio-Rivera House race set for Monday


As expected, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered a machine recount in a tight race between Democrat Robert Asencio and Republican David Rivera for Miami-Dade County's House District 118 seat.

In unofficial results, Asencio edged Rivera by just 68 votes -- a tenth of a percentage point. State law requires automatic recounts when results are within a half of a percentage point.

More here.


November 10, 2016

In the end, Mike Fernandez didn't vote for Clinton or Trump

Bizmon 18 Two PAB

After declaring he'd cross party lines and endorsing Hillary Clinton, Miami healthcare executive and Republican donor Mike Fernandez said Thursday he ultimately didn't vote for her -- or for Donald Trump, whom he'd campaigned against and called "abysmally unfit."

Trump "has a stink of a dictator," Fernandez told the Miami Herald in an email Thursday, citing the president-elect's past contention that only he can fix the country's problems.

"But at the end, I wrote in JEB BUSH!"

Fernandez emailed Republican friends Thursday morning to mention an anecdote about George Washington making way for newly sworn-in successor, John Adams.

"The people have spoken; the politics of the election are over," he wrote, without saying he'd written-in Bush. "Donald Trump is now our elected President. In our system of a Constitutional Republic, regardless of what the different choices might be, the nation goes on functioning. That is the beauty of our democracy."

Among the reply-all responses came one from Bush, who has declined to disclose how he voted after saying he wouldn't support Clinton or Trump, either.

"Well said," he wrote. "Very well said."

Photo credit: Peter Andrew Bosch, Miami Herald file

November 07, 2016

Justice Department sends poll watchers to 5 Florida counties

via @VeraMBergen

The U.S. Justice Department is dispatching more than 500 monitors and observers to watch polling sites in 28 states on Election Day, it announced on Monday.

“We will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

The number is a reduction of about a third from the more than 780 monitors who were deployed during the 2012 election. On Tuesday they will be stationed in 67 jurisdictions across the country to keep track of any voting irregularities. They will be watching for voting rights violations, such as whether voters are discriminated against because of their race or language.

“As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides,” Lynch said on Monday.

Of the 500 people who will be deployed, those sent to Alaska, California, Louisiana, New York and Alabama will be election “observers” will full access to the polls. Those dispatched to the other 24 states will be “monitors,” meaning they don’t have the statutory authority to access polling sites, which will have to be granted by state and local authorities.

Among the monitored counties will be five in Florida: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough and Lee.

--with Patricia Mazzei

How many people voted at Lemon City library during extended hours?


The answer: Not a lot.

Forced by a judge to make up for two hours of morning road closures, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department kept the Lemon City public library early-voting site open until 9 p.m. Sunday, two hours past the 7 p.m. closing time.

There were no lines and few people at the library, which is at a predominantly black Miami neighborhood. But the department says some people -- 42, to be exact -- did cast their ballots there between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

November 06, 2016

Sunday turnout shatters records in Miami-Dade and Broward


There’s really no other way to say it: Early voting went absolutely gangbusters in Florida’s two most populous counties on Sunday, during the last day the polls were open before Election Day.

Miami-Dade County Elections Supervisor Christina White reported 53,095 ballots cast, a number that shattered the county’s previous record of 42,810, set Friday.

Before that, Miami-Dade had never exceeded 39,400 in-person early voters in a single day; 40,051 voted Saturday, when much of the county was drenched in rain. Bad weather typically drives down turnout.

“This has no doubt been a record breaking election. Both in terms of overall turnout and because we broke the daily record today by more than 13,000 voters,” White said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “This coupled with minimal wait times has made early voting in Miami-Dade a success.”

In Broward County, 44,216 people voted Sunday, the highest total from the two weeks of early voting this year. The previous 2016 high, from Friday, was 36,276. On Saturday, 35,905 Broward residents voted, also despite persistent rain.

The day brought Broward’s total number of early votes over two weeks to 426,498. Another 188,489 people had cast ballots by mail, for a total of 614,987. Compared to 2012 totals, that’s a nearly 47 percent jump.

Miami-Dade saw 475,864 in-person early votes during the two-week 2016 period, and 287,224 mail votes, for a total of 763,088. That’s a 61 percent increase from 2012. Four years ago, there were only eight days of in-person early voting, and no voting on the Sunday before Election Day.

More here.

UPDATE Judge grants request to extend early voting at Miami-Dade site


A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ruled late Sunday that early-voting hours at one polling place should by extended by two hours, until 9 p.m.

Judge William Thomas granted an emergency request by the Florida Democratic Party to give voters more time to cast ballots at the public library in Lemon City, a predominantly black Miami neighborhood. The site had reported no major influx of voters Sunday.

Democrats cited road closings due to a race — the iRace 5K/10K — and a nearby, unrelated car accident for keeping voters from the polls. Thomas held a hearing Sunday evening.

The judge wrote that he ruled in the party’s favor “to avoid abuse and to protect and preserve the Constitutional and statutory voting rights of Miami-Dade County citizens.”

Voting closed everywhere else at 7 p.m., though people in line at that time are allowed to cast ballots. Sunday is the last day of early voting, and it’s known as Souls to the Polls, after organized efforts by African-American churches to get congregations to vote.

More here.

This story has been updated.

November 04, 2016

Dwight Bullard pushes back on attacks over Israel trip as critics repeat 'terrorist' claims



Nearing Election Day in a competitive race, incumbent Miami Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard recently ramped up his defense against weeks-long political attacks over a trip he took to the Middle East last spring.

The normally mild-mannered lawmaker has taken an aggressive approach: He did a lengthy interview on Spanish-language TV last week to address the matter and, this week, has twice publicly rebutted emails blasted out on a pro-Israel mailing list that have attacked Bullard and claim he's anti-Semitic and not answering questions about his trip with a Miami-based social justice organization.

On Friday, one of his former Democratic primary opponents, former Miami-Dade School Board member and state Rep. Ana Rivas Loganalso came to his defense by formally endorsing his campaign.

NBC6 Miami first reported in late August -- a week before the contested Democratic primary in Bullard's District 40 race -- that Bullard had traveled to Palestinian areas of Israel "in the company of a man linked to a terror group."

In the weeks since the primary, allegations about the controversial trip have continued to dog Bullard as they became fodder for continuous attacks.

A political committee for Florida Senate Republicans -- who are backing Bullard's challenger, Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles -- paid for an eye-catching, Spanish-language ad this fall that included footage from the 9/11 terrorist attacks in accusing Bullard of spending time with a "terrorist."

MORE: "GOP ad featuring 9/11 footage accuses Dwight Bullard of meeting with 'terrorist'"

Pro-Israel activist and South Florida businessman Joe Zevuloni, who originally spoke with NBC6, remains outspoken against Bullard. He told the Herald/Times this week that he's not satisfied with explanations Bullard has given.

Continue reading "Dwight Bullard pushes back on attacks over Israel trip as critics repeat 'terrorist' claims" »

Donald Trump has more poll watchers in Broward than Miami-Dade



Donald Trump will have more registered poll watchers in Broward than Miami-Dade and Hillary Clinton will have more than Trump in both counties on election day.

Trump will have 222 registered poll watchers in Broward County and 150 in Miami-Dade Nov. 8. Clinton will have 604 poll watchers in Broward and 903 in Miami-Dade.

The Miami Herald obtained the numbers of poll watchers from election supervisors in both counties. Poll watchers must register with election offices which gives them the right to observe voting areas.

Photo of the St. Louis debate by the AP


November 03, 2016

Bal Harbour Shops spends big to get friendly council candidates elected


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The biggest spenders in the tiny, wealthy seaside community of Bal Harbour may not be the shoppers going to the village's high-end mall.

It's the mall itself. The Bal Harbour Shops, who has dropped more than $200,000 to back two candidates who are friendly to the upscale mall's plans to expand.

That's a big number for a tiny village of 2,800.

The current council has not allowed the Shops' expansion to move forward. On the council of five, a two-vote swing could pave the way for expansion plans to proceed.

Read more.

Legislative candidates who don't live in district they're seeking can't vote for themselves


When she votes this fall, veteran Miami Republican lawmaker Anitere Flores might not be able to vote for herself.

Because if she votes in her current precinct, the ballot she receives will have neither her name nor her District 39 Florida Senate race on it. It will list the District 40 race instead.

The same goes for House District 103 candidate Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, a Doral Democrat in her first bid for public office. Rather than seeing her own name on a ballot for the first time, she’ll see candidates for House District 116 if she votes in the precinct she’s assigned to now.

That’s because Flores and Gonzalez Petkovich — along with five other legislative candidates in Miami-Dade — don’t currently live in and aren’t registered to vote in the district that they’re seeking to represent.

The Herald/Times identified the seven candidates — one Republican (Flores) and six Democrats — through an analysis of current voter registration records. These candidates make up 20 percent of the 34 candidates competing for Miami-Dade legislative seats this fall.

More here.

Photo credit: AP