MIAMI – On Tuesday afternoon, Gérard Legagneur walked past the mailbox near the facade of Miami Beach City Hall, one of 33 early voting and mail-order drop-off sites in Miami-Dade, the most populous county in Florida.
Always a hotly contested slice of political ground, the county has seen Republicans gaining ground over the Democrats’ lead in the number of early votes for the Nov. 3 presidential election in recent days. Legagneur, a voter for Biden-Harris, wanted to participate in the action.
Stocky 44-year-old voter wearing a Captain America t-shirt, Legagneur approached a pair of polling officers wearing face masks and latex gloves standing under a black gazebo. He opened his satchel and took out his ballot in the mail. After verifying his identity, one of the polling officers seized Legagneur’s ballot and placed it in a metal drop box.
Legaganuer told the Daily Beast that he received his ballot in the mail about three weeks ago and was unsure if he would.
“I have always voted at the polls,” said Legagnuer. “I was still wondering if I should fill it out or not. I think it’s pretty clear to anyone who knows about our whole messaging system debacle, you don’t want to take any chances.
The day before, Legaganeur learned that the U.S. Postal Service was recommending voters cast their ballots in the mail on Tuesday to ensure documents were delivered to election offices before the election day deadlines next week. At the same time, he knew the Miami-Dade Elections Department had set up a drop-off location at Miami Beach City Hall when early voting began on October 19.
“I had passed a few times and saw the length of the lines, but today was the day I could do it,” said Legaganeur. “I filled out the ballot and deposited it. It seems legitimate.
If Democrats want to maintain their early voting advantage over the GOP as both parties head to return elections, the party relies on tens of thousands of additional voters like Legaganeur in several states to personally deliver their ballots. by mail to local voting sites. By the end of Tuesday, supporters said, the window to get people to securely mail their votes was effectively closed.
According to the latest data from the Florida Division of Elections, registered Democrats in the state had delivered about 600,000 more mail-in ballots than Republicans on Tuesday night. But registered GOP voters outperformed their liberal rivals in in-person polls, accounting for about 316,000 more early votes than Democrats, according to statistics from the Elections Division.
At the same time, 852,117 mail-in ballots requested by Democratic voters had not been returned, compared with 652,405 that had not been returned by Republicans. In Miami-Dade, 111,944 mail-in ballots requested by Democrats remained pending, compared to 70,960 for Republicans.
The county also sent 20,342 replacement ballots to voters who said they did not receive it or who filled it out incorrectly.
For those voters who vote by mail who keep their ballots, local party leaders and voting groups have asked them to forget to go to the post office or mailbox. And Florida wasn’t the only state where activists and advocates feared the time to seal a ballot and have a say in Donald Trump’s political fate had come.
Jacquelyn Kovarik is the communications director of Voces de la Frontera Action, a non-profit organization focused on lobbying and civic engagement in Hispanic and Latino-dominated neighborhoods of Milwaukee. She told the Daily Beast that she was not surprised that the state Supreme Court just blocked a judge’s decision that the state should accept ballots after Election Day as long as they had been postmarked on time.
Either way, his organization had already decided to tell people to send ballots, and like the New York Times reported, Democrats in the state are now frantically urging voters to return early votes in person.
“We have encouraged people not to mail their ballots after October 23 to avoid delays and to drop them off or vote in person after that date,” Kovarik told the Daily Beast.
Erica Dvorachek, 44, was among those who voted early in person in Milwaukee on Tuesday. But she said the state Supreme Court’s decision was not her motivation.
“I trust the post office, but I think they’re just overwhelmed, and I just wanted to come and do it in person,” she said.
Perhaps, given the history of the tense polls in South Florida, the temperature there was even higher.
Abel Iraola, Florida press secretary for the youth voting organization NextGen America, issued a dramatic warning about Twitter Tuesday morning: “The fact that we are away for 7 days means exactly one thing: if you / your friends are still holding the ballots, DO NOT send them back. Return them to a drop box (at an early polling place) or vote early. It is too late to risk your ballot not arriving by 7 p.m. on polling day. “
Iraola told the Daily Beast that the tweet was intentional. NextGen organizers and activists are now encouraging young voters to come to polling stations. The change comes after progressive-leaning electoral groups pushed voters to have their ballots sealed in the mail earlier this month to avoid the rush with strangers lining up to vote early in person and on the day. of the ballot. It was a strategy to minimize possible risks of contracting the coronavirus as the most crucial election in US history unfolds in a resurgent pandemic.
Meanwhile, Republican voters – driven by President Donald Trump’s deliberately misleading claims about mail-order fraud and the pursuit of their normal lives – voted in person en masse.
“We never expected that 90-100% of all of those mail-in ballots would be handed out,” Iraola said. “But it forces us to get the job done and get people to cast their ballots in the mail or vote early. We also had a lot of people who asked for ballots in the mail who didn’t feel comfortable sending them with the US Postal Service. “
This sentiment was shared by Democratic and Republican voters polled by The Daily Beast. Yulia and Yves Arispe were ahead of Legagneur on the Miami Beach mayoral election site when they cast their ballots. Voting in their first election since becoming U.S. citizens two years ago, the Venezuelan American couple said they have filled the bubble for the Trump-Pence note.
Yves Arispe said they were aware of the president’s unwarranted attacks on the postal voting system, but handing over the sealed documents to election officials reassured them that their votes would be counted. “We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us about corrupt elections,” he said. “We know this because we come from a place where thousands of ballots mysteriously disappear and go unrecorded.”
Arispe also claimed that the US Postal Service did not deliver other important items to him and his wife. “That was the main reason we wanted to let him down,” he said. “We didn’t want to risk not getting our ballot on time and being counted.”
Despite Trump’s apparently fueled distrust of the postal service, there is recent anecdotal evidence that mail delivery in the Miami area is not up to the challenge. The Miami-Dade Election Department hand-delivered a replacement ballot this week to an elderly voter residing in a Jewish retirement home who went an entire week without mail delivery, according to the Miami herald. And on October 19, the first day of early voting, the South Florida attorney’s office accused Miami Beach mail carrier Crystal Nicole Myree of stealing a mail-in ballot, more than three dozen flyers. policies, -paid debit cards.
Distrust of the postal service stretched from Miami Beach to mainland Miami. At the Lemon City Library’s early voting and drop-off site, Nichole Ayres, 37, cast his ballot in the mail. Petite blonde woman in a pink mask and floral-print tank top, Ayres said it was the first time she had not voted in person. “I decided to take a postal vote because of COVID-19,” she said. “Everyone here is wearing a mask, I didn’t have to go in and everyone is socially distant. It was easy.
Yet she had no confidence in herself to put her ballot in a mailbox. “I had no idea today was the last day to get it in the mail to make sure it arrives on time,” Ayres said. “But I always planned to let him down. Almost everyone I know has either cast their ballot or will do so this week.
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