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Absentee ballots key in Miami-Dade mayor's race

The act of voting has long been protected by safeguards aimed to ensure it is done in privacy—usually in the sanctity of a curtained polling booth, free of intrusion or coercion.

No longer. For more and more people in Greater Miami, voting is very different. It doesn’t take place in a polling booth, and it’s not done in private. In fact, the votes may be cast in the presence of campaign field workers armed with lists of names, who arrive on doorsteps to urge voters to fill out ballots for specific candidates, and who may even insist on mailing the ballots themselves to the Elections Department.

This is a reality of absentee voting today. Once a marginal factor in elections, absentee voting has metastasized into a pivotal force. In special elections that bring low turnout, absentee votes sometimes outnumber Election Day ballots. In the 2008 special election for Miami-Dade County property appraiser, a staggering 67 percent of votes were absentees.

Absentee votes are certain to be a decisive factor in the election Tuesday for Miami-Dade County mayor, in which Julio Robaina faces off against Carlos Gimenez. Full story by Matthew Haggman, Martha Brannigan and Laura Isensee here.